A restaurateur involved in lawsuits that could threaten beach concession service in the Town of Oyster Bay has financial, political and personal ties to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, records show.
For example, the county paid almost $240,000 to Harendra Singh, who operates numerous businesses from his headquarters in Bethpage, Mangano's hometown, for hot meals for top county, state and federal officials after superstorm Sandy.
Mangano's campaign also rented space for his campaign headquarters from Singh in two elections and Singh employed Mangano's wife, Linda, at one of his companies.
The $238,200 that Nassau paid to Singh's Raj & Raj Realty, a catering service, represents the entirety of county business with Singh companies since Mangano took office in 2010, besides a $682 purchase from Raj & Raj in 2011, according to the county comptroller.
Raj & Raj received the Sandy work in no-bid "emergency purchase orders" that did not go through the county legislature for approval.
The county charter requires the legislature to approve all individual contracts for $25,000 or more and all spending above $100,000 annually to one vendor. All emergency purchases above $100,000 are to be ratified by the legislature -- but county officials say Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's declaration of a state emergency after Sandy struck in October 2012 overrode those requirements.
No talk of Mangano ties
Without public approval of the selection of Raj & Raj, there was no discussion of Singh's ties to the Mangano family.
Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) had complained at a Jan. 7, 2013, Finance Committee meeting that the administration had not provided the names of the food vendors in a $109 million emergency spending bill -- the only expense category for which vendors were not listed. A budget official said then she did not know the vendors but would email the names to DeRiggi-Whitton.
"I was never given that information," DeRiggi-Whitton said recently. The legislature subsequently approved the bill, with DeRiggi-Whitton abstaining.
"At some point, I think the term 'emergency' is used a little lightly. It's a very good opportunity for something going through without being scrutinized," she said.
Mangano aides said the selection of Singh's company was done through the emergency management and purchasing offices, without Mangano's input.
"Mangano wasn't involved," said Deputy County Executive Ed Ward. "As far as any disclosure of any relationship with Singh, other than personal in nature, he has disclosed that on his financial filings."
Creditors in a series of financial disputes with Singh are currently targeting some of his companies, including Quinn Restaurant Corp., which had employed Linda Mangano.
One creditor, alleging default on a loan, is seeking to seize equipment at Singh's concession at Oyster Bay's Tobay Beach -- for which he has a 50-year agreement with the town -- as well as his H.R. Singletons Grill & Bar in Bethpage and his Water's Edge in Long Island City, Queens, which is run by Quinn Restaurant Corp.
Singh denies the claims and has countersued the creditor, Capital One Equipment Finance Corp. of Melville, alleging breach of contract and that the company overcharged him.
Linda Mangano worked in marketing and advertising for Quinn Restaurant Corp. from 2010 to 2014, Ward said. Singh bought Quinn in 2008, in the midst of its long-term lease with New York City to run Water's Edge. One of Mangano's two sons also worked for Singh for two summers as an assistant waiter, Ward said.
Singh did not return requests for comment last week.
Mangano aides said Linda Mangano worked part-time for Quinn. They did not disclose her salary or any specifics about her role beyond saying she has worked in the marketing and advertising field "for 30 years." Her primary job is publishing a community newspaper that covers Bethpage.
The county executive disclosed his wife's job with Quinn on his annual county financial disclosure statements.
Those disclosures require officials to indicate the income, in broad ranges, earned from each job held by the official and their spouse. Mangano's disclosures, obtained by Newsday, had those ranges redacted.
Singh's primary company, Singh Hospitality Group, established in 1990, operates several restaurants. Its headquarters uses Singleton's Bethpage address, where Mangano's campaign has spent about $14,000 on fundraisers and $17,000 on food and meetings since 2009.
Singh, who was one of the few nonpublic officials on stage as Mangano was sworn in for his second term last year, also has provided nearby office space he owns for Mangano's recent campaign headquarters.
"They are friends," Ward said, adding that Singh and Mangano have known each other for more than 25 years.
Mangano's campaign has paid Singh companies a total of at least $67,000 since 2009 for food, fundraisers and rent, state campaign finance records show. Singh and his companies also have given $9,000 to Mangano's campaign in that time, including "in-kind" services.
Ward said the county chose Raj & Raj after Sandy to serve meals at Nassau's emergency management offices in Bethpage because its existing food vendors already were feeding Sandy victims at county shelters and weren't equipped to provide the services needed.
The emergency offices had some 500 people from all levels of government and relief agencies working 24-hour days, Ward said.
"It was the county's responsibility" to feed those workers through all their shifts, serving up to six meals a day, he said.
Records show Nassau paid Raj & Raj $52 a day for meals for emergency staff, and spent an average of $22.50 a day on meals for residents flooded out -- including special needs victims.
Invoices show the firm supplied 400 breakfasts, lunches and dinners a day. Dinner dishes included chicken Francaise, sliced London broil, chicken Marsala and salmon with dill cream sauce. Lunch menus included turkey and chicken wraps, eggplant Parmesan, manicotti and tossed salad.
In comparison, Whitson's Food Service, which already was providing county youth centers with lunches, charged $6 for each breakfast of cold cereal and juice, and $6.25 for each lunch and dinner, mostly boxed cold sandwiches, at shelters including at the Glen Cove and Levittown high schools.
J & B Restaurant, Nassau Community College's food vendor, supplied the county special needs shelter at the college, charging $7.50 for breakfast and $9.50 for lunch and dinner.
Ward said the sheriff's department, which feeds inmates in Nassau's jail, at first provided meals to emergency workers until the state health department raised concerns about food handling. The county then went to Raj & Raj, which was near the Bethpage center and had electric power. Ward said FEMA and the state reimbursed the food costs.
A spokesman for County Comptroller George Maragos said his office approved the $238,200 to Raj & Raj without legislative approval because of the emergency declaration.
"We were not looking for legislative approval," said the spokesman, Jostyn Hernandez. "We were just checking the accuracy of the invoice."
However, he said the payments should have gone back to lawmakers for ratification because Raj & Raj received more than $100,000, in total.
Republican legislative spokesman Frank Moroney, who worked for Maragos during Sandy recovery, discounted the need for further disclosure or oversight.
"Under the circumstances that existed after hurricane Sandy, when everything was being done on an emergency basis, I don't think it would have made a difference," he said.