Federal prosecutors will seek to prove in the retrial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano that he took bribes — including $450,000 for an essentially no-show job for his wife, Linda Mangano — in return for helping political donor and restaurateur Harendra Singh gain lucrative country contracts and $20 million in indirect loan guarantees.
Defense attorneys have maintained that any benefit Mangano and his wife — who is also standing retrial on corruption charges — received were gifts from their decades-long friendship with Singh and not bribes to help Singh shore up his restaurant empire.
Neither side denies that the Manganos and Singh had a lengthy and genuine friendship, but prosecutors have argued that substantial benefits to the Manganos began to flow only after Edward Mangano was elected county executive in 2009.
Opening arguments in the retrial are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Central Islip in the same ninth-floor federal courtroom of U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack and on the same charges that Eastern District federal prosecutors originally brought against the couple.
It is eight months since their first trial ended on May 31. Azrack declared a mistrial when a jury could not reach a verdict after 12 weeks of testimony and deliberations.
“Ed Mangano has endured a three-month trial in which the government was unable to obtain a single count of conviction,” said Kevin Keating , Edward Mangano’s attorney, along with Matthew Brissenden. “Moreover, jurors interviewed following the trial were unanimous in their wholesale rejection of the testimony of the government’s star witness and cooperator, Harendra Singh.”
The co-defendant has also endured hardship, according to her attorney.
“For Linda Mangano, this trial is like having to replay the Super Bowl after winning by four touchdowns,” said John Carman, who is representing her along with Sara Pervez. “She will tough it out, but she would have preferred the not-guilty verdict she deserved the first time.”
The government’s case centers on allegations that, in addition to the no-show job, the Manganos received two chairs, each worth more than $3,000; a watch valued at $7,300 for a son; hardwood flooring in the master bedroom of their Bethpage home, thousands of dollars worth of vacations, including to the Caribbean; and regular meals at Singh’s restaurants. Singh is expected to testify again.
In return, prosecutors Catherine Mirabile, Lara Treinis Gatz and Christopher Caffarone will seek to prove that Singh received two Nassau County contracts, each worth more than $200,000, as well as a $20 million indirect loan guarantee. One Nassau contract was to supply bread and rolls to the county jail; the other to provide food for county workers in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, prosecutors say.
A spokesman for Eastern District prosecutors, John Marzulli, declined to comment.
Edward Mangano, 56, is charged with seven felony counts, including federal program bribery, honest-services wire fraud, extortion and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Linda Mangano, 55, is charged with five felony counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.
The Manganos have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A new jury of eight women and four men was selected last week, along with six alternates — three men and three women — from a pool of more than 300 potential jurors. Four of the jurors are from Nassau County, four from Suffolk, two from Queens and two from Brooklyn. They have been told the trial will last five to seven weeks.
The shorter length is apparently partly because several weeks of the previous trial took up specific testimony about the alleged financial crimes of the Manganos’ co-defendant, former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. Venditto was acquitted of the charges.
Also, both prosecutors and defense attorneys now know many of the strengths and weaknesses of the other side, and are prepared to adjust their strategies.
For example, several of the jurors questioned by Newsday reporters after the mistrial said they had trouble with the credibility of Singh, the key government witness.
Singh, 60, of Laurel Hollow, was the first government witness at the first trial. This time, Singh will not be the first government witness and there may be as many as 12 other witnesses who take the stand before him, according to the sources.
Those initial government witnesses, apparently, are intended to lay the groundwork to bolster the accuracy of what Singh will subsequently testify to.
On the other hand, defense attorneys now know what Singh and other government witnesses are on the record as testifying to, and Singh and they cannot alter the essence of their testimonies to make it more favorable to perceived weakness in the initial government’s case.
Also, while prosecutors filed the same charges against both Manganos for the retrial, the superseding indictment appears to be an attempt to refine the government’s case.
The first indictment did not list Linda Mangano’s purported false statements to the FBI.
The new indictment includes 11 allegedly specific examples, apparently in response to comments by jurors after the first trial that they were unsure which of her statements were supposedly falsehoods.
The new indictment also eliminated all mention of the acquitted Venditto as being involved in the Oyster Bay loan scheme.
In its place, the federal prosecutors wrote that Mangano used “pressure” to get an unnamed Town of Oyster Bay supervisor to help Singh get the indirect loan guarantees.
The new indictment also added more detailed language in an attempt to link Edward Mangano to the bread-and-rolls contract, writing: “On or about May 7, 2012, a Nassau official whose name is known to the grand jury went to the Nassau County Office of Purchasing to discuss the awarding of a certain contract for which Singh submitted a bid.” During the first trial, the official was identified as Rob Walker, Mangano’s chief deputy.
Disputing Edward Mangano’s role in getting Singh the bread-and-rolls contract is expected to be a significant part of the Manganos’ defense.
Some jurors who talked to Newsday reporters after the mistrial said that the jury was leaning toward acquitting Linda Mangano of all charges, but split 11-1 for convicting Edward Mangano on the bread-and-rolls charge.
Weeks before the trial, the defense team asked the judge in a written motion to dismiss the indictment, accusing prosecutors of concealing evidence and “a key witness” that could have helped clear Edward Mangano.
“We have since learned that the government was aware of a witness, who they improperly withheld from the defense, who fully exonerates my client,” Keating said Friday, vowing to continue what he called his fight to exonerate Edward Mangano.
Prosecutors vehemently denied misconduct and withholding evidence in a filing to the judge in early January. They defended their argument in a 47-page document.
On Thursday, Azrack rejected all defense motions to dismiss the case, saying she would give detailed reasoning for all her decisions at an unspecified later date.
CORRECTION: The Manganos' retrial begins at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. A previous version of this story had an incorrect time.
Mangano case timeline
- January 2010 to February 2015: Prosecutors said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto engaged in a scheme to solicit bribes from a restaurateur, identified as Harendra Singh.
- April 2010 to August 2014: Prosecutors said Linda Mangano, the county executive’s wife, gets paid more than $450,000 for a job with Singh, doing “little to no work,” while Singh gets contracts with Nassau County and Town of Oyster Bay, including concession agreements.
- January 2010 to December 2013: Prosecutors said Singh is granted a loan for $20 million, guaranteed by amendments to concession agreements with Town of Oyster Bay. Edward Mangano “pressures” Venditto to vote on town board resolutions to amend concession agreements on Singh’s behalf.
- January 2010 to February 2015: The Manganos receive a massage chair, a Panerai Luminor watch and hardwood flooring from Singh, prosecutors said.
- March 2014 to December 2015: FBI serves eight grand jury subpoenas on Town of Oyster Bay.
- Jan. 13, 2015: FBI interviews Linda Mangano at the family’s Bethpage residence.
- Jan. 15, 2015 to October 2016: The Manganos meet with FBI and “fabricate stories” to explain Linda Mangano’s employment, prosecutors said.
- Feb. 3, 2015: FBI serves Linda Mangano with grand jury subpoena, also requesting records related to employment for Singh.
- May 20, 2015: Linda Mangano provides “fabricated examples of work” she performed for Singh, prosecutors said.
- June 18, 2015: Newsday reports that Singh, involved in lawsuits that could threaten beach concession service in the Town of Oyster Bay, has financial, political and personal ties to Edward Mangano. Newsday also reports the county paid almost $240,000 to Singh, who operates numerous businesses from his headquarters in Bethpage, the county executive’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, the paper reports, and Singh employed Linda Mangano at one of his companies.
- Aug. 10, 2015: Newsday reports that Mangano's and his family’s trips to the Caribbean were paid for by Singh. Among the findings: A July 2012 trip was scheduled for St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and a second trip, scheduled for July 2013, was for the Turks and Caicos, where Singh arranged for the Manganos to stay in a two-bedroom oceanfront suite for $4,961. An email dated June 3, 2013, sent by a travel agent to Singh, said the total cost of a trip to the Turks and Caicos for Singh, Singh’s guests and the Manganos was $17,498. A source familiar with the situation said the 2012 trip might have been canceled but that Mangano and his family went on the second trip to the Turks and Caicos. Edward Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City, said of those reports: “There is absolutely no story here. The Manganos and the Singhs have been friends for many, many years, lifelong friends.”
- Aug. 21, 2015: FBI raids Singh’s Bethpage offices.
- Aug. 31, 2015: Frederick Mei, former Oyster Bay deputy town attorney, resigns.
- Sept. 9, 2015: Singh is arrested on a 13-count federal indictment. He’s freed on $5 million bond. Six of the counts accused Singh of paying a bribe to a former Oyster Bay deputy town attorney to get an “indirect guarantee” of $32 million in loans for his businesses, including food concessions he ran at town beaches and a town golf course. Other charges included defrauding the IRS by not reporting millions of dollars in wages paid to employees of his restaurants and fraudulently collecting almost $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The latter accusation refers to Singh collecting the money for falsely claiming his Water’s Edge restaurant in Long Island City was damaged during superstorm Sandy.
- Oct. 23, 2015: FBI interviews Venditto.
- Dec. 16, 2015: Singh is rearrested and held without bail. Federal prosecutors said he violated the conditions of his release by fraudulently attempting to obtain a $146,000 loan.
- Dec. 18, 2015: Venditto is interviewed by FBI again and claims to have never received anything of value from Singh. Prosecutors said he received limousine services, free use of private office space, discounted rates for events and fundraisers at Singh’s venues.
- February 2016: Prosecutors and defense meet to discuss a plea deal for Singh.
- June 2016: Singh’s trial date set for Jan. 9, 2017.
- October 2016: Singh secretly pleads guilty to bribing Edward Mangano, Venditto and an unnamed New York City official, court papers show.
- October 2016: Mangano and Venditto, along with Linda Mangano, are arrested and named in the 13-count federal indictment alleging extortion, bribery, fraud and obstruction charges.
- July 13, 2017: Mangano lets pass the deadline to submit ballot petitions to run for another term as county executive as a Republican.
- Nov. 21, 2017: Venditto is indicted on 21 new federal criminal charges involving securities fraud in the town’s public offering of more than $1 billion in securities between 2010 and 2016. The superseding indictment adds 21 more counts to the alleged corruption and kickback case that Eastern District federal prosecutors had already brought against Venditto, Edward Mangano and Linda Mangano. The Manganos are not accused in the securities fraud.
- Dec. 5, 2017: A federal judge delays for two months the corruption trial of the Manganos and Venditto because Venditto’s attorneys said they needed more time to prepare to fight the additional securities fraud charges.
- Jan. 24: The government unseals Singh’s plea and related documents, as part of discovery disclosed to the Manganos and Venditto as part of their own federal corruption charges.
- March 12: Corruption trial of the Manganos and Venditto kicks off in the federal courthouse in Central Islip with jury selection.
- March 14: Opening arguments in the Mangano-Venditto trial.
- May 18: Corruption case goes to the jury just before 10 a.m.
- May 24: Jury acquits Venditto of all federal corruption charges and resumes deliberations on the Manganos. Venditto still faces state corruption charges unrelated to Singh.
- May 31: The Manganos’ federal corruption trial ends in a mistrial.
- Jan. 22, 2019: The Manganos' federal corruption retrial starts in Central Islip.
Edward Mangano, 56, former Nassau County executive, is charged with seven felony counts, including federal program bribery, honest-services wire fraud, extortion and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Mangano, who had previously been a part-time county legislator and "of counsel" to the Uniondale law firm Rivkin Radler, won the county executive seat in an upset in November 2009 and was re-elected in 2013.
Linda Mangano, 55, wife of Edward Mangano, is charged with five felony counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.
U.S. District Judge Joan Marie Azrack, 67, the judge presiding over the corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, has spent her professional career working within the federal justice system. She made a name for herself as a tough prosecutor in major narcotics cases. But lawyers in the defense bar say that, as a judge, they respect her fairness and courteous demeanor.
Christopher Caffarone is a deputy chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. attorney’s office on Long Island. A Queens native, he attended the University of Notre Dame and NYU School of Law. He joined the U.S. Attorney's office in 2008, and has been in involved in a number of high profile cases, including that of multimillionaire body-armor magnate David Brooks.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz is a senior trial counsel at the U.S. attorney’s office. A graduate of Ithaca College and Brooklyn Law School, she is a former assistant corporation counsel for New York City. At the Eastern District, Treinis Gatz specializes in political corruption and prescription drug crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine M. Mirabile is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Suffolk University Law School in Massachusetts, and was a former assistant corporation counsel for New York City. At the U.S. attorney’s office, she has served as chief employment litigator for the civil division and has been assigned to the criminal division, specializing in political corruption.
The defense team
Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano’s attorney, has offices in Garden City and Manhattan, and has practiced law for more than 26 years, starting his career as a prosecutor in Manhattan. A graduate of Siena College and Brooklyn Law School, he works as a defense attorney specializing in high-profile cases.
John Carman, Linda Mangano's attorney, whose law practice is located in Garden City, is a graduate of Colgate and St. John’s Law School. He is a former prosecutor with the Suffolk County district attorney’s office and a former associate of well-known Long Island defense attorney Stephen Scaring. Carman also takes on high-profile cases.
The star witness
Harendra Singh, owner of several restaurants including H.R. Singleton’s in Bethpage and Water’s Edge in Long Island City, secretly pleaded guilty in October 2016 to bribing former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto and trying to bribe New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was not charged. De Blasio was investigated by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Last March, prosecutors said they would not prosecute de Blasio after examining his fundraising practices but harshly criticized him for the practices.