A federal magistrate Thursday ordered Long Island restaurateur Harendra Singh jailed until trial on bribery charges, agreeing with federal prosecutors that he had violated the conditions of his release on a $5 million bond by fraudulently attempting to get a $148,000 loan.
U.S. Magistrate A. Kathleen Tomlinson in federal court in Central Islip said after the presentation by prosecutors, “I am extremely concerned at what has been demonstrated. . . . Mr. Singh’s actions . . . really have the indicia of fraud…
“Mr. Singh . . . has really demonstrated he can’t be trusted,” the judge added, who had released Singh after his arrest in September on the condition he commit no crimes.
He was rearrested by FBI agents Wednesday.
Singh’s attorney, Anthony La Pinta, of Hauppauge, argued unsuccessfully that his client had no intention of committing a fraud, but was a victim of misunderstanding over his estimate of the financing he needed to obtain for renovations and equipment for one of his restaurants.
After the hearing, La Pinta, said, “I thought that we really made good arguments and we are considering whether to appeal.”
Eastern District federal prosecutors, Raymond Tierney and Catherine Mirabile declined to comment.
In arguing for his client’s release, La Pinta said that an unnamed contractor who was cooperating with the government against Singh was from Ukraine and “speaks with a very heavy accent,” so that an FBI agent misunderstood him.
The magistrate replied that the alleged fraud was simple enough “whether he spoke Ukrainian or English.”
When La Pinta argued that his client knew he was being monitored and would not be foolish enough to engage in the alleged fraud, Tierney replied, “The defendant is presumed innocent, not smart or canny.”
According to Tierney and Mirabile, the investigation began recently when an unnamed informant recently tipped the government that Singh had fraudulently applied for a $148,511 loan from a California company.
The loan was supposedly needed to pay for the renovations and equipment for one of Singh’s restaurant’s, H.R. Singleton’s in Bethpage, and was supported by an invoice, a bill for goods and services, from the contractor.
Prosecutors said when FBI agents questioned the contractor, he said he had done work for Singh, but was a handyman, and was not capable of doing all the work supposedly required.
Prosecutors said that the contractor said he had spoken to Singh recently about doing work for Singh’s closed Coolfish restaurant, not H.R. Singleton’s.
FBI agents then questioned Singh’s employees. One refused to participate in the scheme, the prosecutors said, but a second did so, using details from a document supplied by Singh to create the fraudulent documents.
The prosecutors noted that a copy of the information used had been photographed on a kitchen counter in Singh’s home before it was sent to the second employee.
Tierney and Mirabile also argued that the amount of money they said Singh was fraudulently attempting to obtain was around the $132,000 he owes the town of Oyster Bay for operating concessions. As a condition of his release, Singh was ordered to keep up with his payments to the town.
Tierney said this was typical of Singh’s business dealings, asserting: “the defendant robs from Peter to pay Paul.”
Attorney Jonathan Pickhardt, who represents the town of Oyster Bay said, “Sadly, the facts leading to the rearrest of Mr. Singh appear to confirm the town’s own concerns from some of their prior dealings with him.”
Singh is charged with bribing a former Town of Oyster Bay employee with $50,000 in checks and a $36,000 luxury-car lease aimed at getting the official to have the town give an “indirect guarantee” of $32 million in loans for Singh’s businesses.