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Foreman: Mangano jury was leaning toward acquittal

Jury foreman Marc Tambassopoulos, outside federal court in

Jury foreman Marc Tambassopoulos, outside federal court in Central Islip on Thursday, after a mistrial was declared. Credit: James Carbone

The jury foreman in the corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda, said Thursday he believed the couple was not guilty and said jurors were leaning toward acquitting the two.

“Personally, I feel that they were innocent,” said Marc Tambassopoulos, 29, an NYPD officer from Hicksville assigned to patrol housing projects in West Harlem, in an interview after the case ended in a mistrial.

Tambassopoulos sent U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack a note Thursday afternoon saying he wanted off the jury, prompting the judge’s ruling.

The note, sent at 12:56 p.m. on the ninth day of jury deliberations, read: “I can no longer carry-out my duties as a juror. I wish to be excused.”

Asked what prompted the note, Tambassopoulos said: “Certain people would not change their viewpoint no matter what, and I just didn’t feel comfortable sitting on a jury and giving a verdict either way that I didn’t feel comfortable with . . . so it was just tough, a tough atmosphere.”

The foreman wouldn’t provide a breakdown of how jurors voted but said it was “overwhelming” for an acquittal for Linda Mangano and “more split” for a not-guilty verdict for Edward Mangano

“We’re a little frustrated that we couldn’t reach a verdict, but at the end of the day we’re kind of happy to just be done with this,” Tambassopoulos said. “It was very nerve-wracking.”

The jury last week acquitted co-defendant John Venditto, the former Oyster Bay Town supervisor, of all charges.

Tambassopoulos, who at times cited defense evidence and testimony to explain his position, said he didn’t accept the testimony of the government’s star witness, Harendra Singh.

The former restaurateur and Town of Oyster Bay concessionaire, who pleaded guilty to bribing Edward Mangano and Venditto, spent about a dozen days on the witness stand. But the foreman said Singh would “say whatever he can to make himself look like a victim.”

“To me, they were best friends of 30 years,” Tambassopoulos said of Singh and Edward Mangano. “And if I’m friends with somebody for 30 years and I’m rich and I want to give my friend a present, to me it’s just a gift, a birthday gift. How you gonna say that’s a bribe?”

The other jurors declined to comment, but Tambassopoulos said the deliberations were “regular” and no one was “hostile” or fighting. But he said they took “frequent breaks to recalibrate” and “catch our breath.”

He said jurors struggled at times to wade through the testimony of 60 witnesses and more than 1,100 pieces of evidence presented during the case, which he called “stressful.”

“The trial was almost three months long . . . there were thousands and thousands of pages of emails and all that evidence and we had to make sure we sifted through it, and that took a toll on all of us, our personal lives, our jobs,” he said. “The fact that it was three trials in one really took a toll on us.”

Tambassopoulos, who named President Donald Trump during jury selection on March 12 when asked by the judge to cite a public figure he admired, did not respond when asked whether he agreed with the defense that the case against the Manganos and Venditto, all Republicans, was politically motivated.

Tambassopoulos questioned testimony from FBI Special Agent Laura Spence, the lead agent on the case, who presented more than two dozen instances of lies that she said Linda Mangano told to federal authorities in interviews in 2015 about her alleged no-show job with Singh.

“They put a good case,” Tambassopoulos said of the prosecutors. “But to me, personally, the fact that they’re trying to prove that someone said false statements like Linda and they’re not going to give the exact statements, or a transcript or a copy or even the notes, to me, I don’t feel comfortable saying someone was guilty of federal charges for false statements if they’re not going to tell me what those false statements are.”

Asked about Linda Mangano’s work for Singh, Tambassopoulos adopted the term “low-show job” used by her attorney John Carman in his opening statement. “Well, it was a low-show job, so, to me, there was still work being done,” the foreman said.

Tambassopoulos said he didn’t believe the testimony of former Town Attorney Leonard Genova, who had immunity and testified that Venditto signed off on $20 million in loan guarantees for Singh and dispatched deputy town attorney Frederick Mei to execute them.

“To me, the mastermind behind the whole loan scheme was Harendra Singh and Fred Mei,” Tambassopoulos said.

As Tambassopoulos spoke, the Manganos approached the foreman, surrounded by reporters outside the courthouse in Central Islip and embraced him.

“Thank you for your service, sir,” a crying Edward Mangano told Tambassopoulos, before shaking the police officer’s hand and hugging him.

Linda Mangano grasped Tambassopoulos’ hand and thanked him. The foreman responded: “No problem.”

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