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Corruption retrial testimony focuses on Linda Mangano's job

Linda Mangano arrives at federal court in Central

Linda Mangano arrives at federal court in Central Islip on Wednesday. Credit: James Carbone

This story was reported by Nicole Fuller, Bart Jones, Robert E. Kessler, and Andrew Smith.  It was written by Jones.

Prosecution witnesses in the retrial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda, testified Wednesday that she did almost no work at a job given to her by a businessman who pleaded guilty to bribing her husband.

The witnesses — all of whom had testified in the first trial that ended in a hung jury — said they never saw Linda Mangano come to work at the office of Harendra Singh’s restaurant empire, where for several years she was the top wage earner, garnering a total of $450,000. At least one witness, however, described working with her through emails and phone calls.

On the second day of the federal retrial in Central Islip, Melissa Rodak Evwiehor, who ran payroll and human resources at Singh’s companies, testified about Linda Mangano’s role at the company.

“What work did you see Mrs. Mangano do, to be one of the highest-paid employees of Singh Hospitality Group?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Caffarone asked her.

“None,” Evwiehor replied.

She said she never saw Linda Mangano at any corporate meetings or heard her call in, even though Evwiehor worked in the same open office as the marketing department in the basement of Singh’s flagship restaurant, HR Singletons.

In that basement, Evwiehor said, she “never” heard a co-worker comment on work Linda Mangano had done.

Joseph Scalice, a former general manager at the Water’s Edge restaurant in Long Island City, owned by Singh, said Linda Mangano did 30 to 40 percent of the work on a pair of marketing projects they coordinated to boost business at the then-struggling eatery.

During cross-examination by John Carman, Linda Mangano’s defense attorney, Scalice said she was always responsive and courteous in the three and a half to four months of interaction — almost exclusively through email. In one on June 1, 2010, she emailed Scalice about printing an advertisement from her office and described “stuffing, sorting and labeling and taking them to the office.”

Asked if Linda Mangano was “doing the grunt work,” Scalice replied yes.

In another exchange that day, Scalice was pleased with the work Linda Mangano had done. “This mailer is terrific. It’s eye-catching and to the point,” he wrote to her.

But he also said he remembered seeing Linda Mangano only three or four times at Singh’s restaurants and she didn’t appear to be working. He said it would have taken him three or four days to complete some of the projects if he did them himself, but it took three or four months to coordinate with Linda Mangano to finish the tasks.

Contact with her was “sporadic,” Scalice said. On some days, he said, she’d email him three or four times, but at other times “I wouldn’t hear from her for a week or a week and a half.”

Edward Mangano is accused of partaking in a scheme involving Singh, who has pleaded guilty to providing the couple with perks ranging from a $450,000 “no-show job” for Linda Mangano to office and massage chairs for Edward Mangano in exchange for county contracts and $20 million in Oyster Bay Town-linked loans boosting his restaurant empire.

Linda Mangano, 55, is accused of lying to the FBI when questioned about her work for Singh.

Edward Mangano, 56, is charged with seven felony counts, including federal program bribery, honest services wire fraud, extortion and conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to the FBI. His defense attorney has contended that Singh is lying because he wants leniency for his crimes and that he got nothing in return for any gifts he gave Edward Mangano during their 20-year friendship.

The Manganos have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On Wednesday, Caffarone presented a series of company emails describing marketing meetings, advertising plans and menu changes for special events that prosecutors claim Linda Mangano took credit for. But Evwiehor’s husband, Paul, who also worked at the company, said repeatedly that Linda Mangano had no role in any of those projects or events. Instead, Singh’s regular marketing officers or Bullfrog Communications, Singh’s outside marketing company, played the lead role.

“Did you ever have any communication with Linda Mangano?” Caffarone asked.

“No,” he said.

Paul Evwiehor, who worked for Singh from 2005 to 2015, beginning as a banquet manager at the Woodlands and eventually becoming assistant general manager and then general manager at The Water’s Edge, said Linda Mangano didn’t work at the restaurant from 2010 to 2014.

“I would have met her,” said Evwiehor, 33. “Her name would have come up in conversations. I would have saw her there.”

He said he did see Linda Mangano once at the Long Island City restaurant — but it was at an event for her husband Edward, billed as a joint 50th birthday party and a political fundraiser.

As part of his duties as a general manager, Evwiehor said, he frequently attended marketing meetings with other managers and marketing and advertising staffers.

“How many of those marketing meetings did Mrs. Mangano attend?” Caffarone asked.

Evweihor replied: “None.”

Caffarone then asked: “How many times did Singh or someone else attribute a marketing idea to Mrs. Mangano?”

He answered: “Never.”

Evwiehor said the fliers, email blasts and advertisements in local papers, meant to draw more patrons to the Water’s Edge, were executed by other Singh employees — not Linda Mangano.

Asked by Caffarone how often he spoke to her about email blasts, Evwiehor answered: “Never.”

The first he heard of Linda Mangano working for Singh, he said, was when Melissa Rodak Evwiehor, whom he later married, asked him if Linda Mangano worked at the Water’s Edge. He said she told him that, as a payroll manager, she had seen her name on the restaurant’s payroll.

Paul Evwiehor said he told her she didn’t work there.

Then one day when he went to pick up the paychecks for The Water’s Edge from HR Singletons — one of his duties as manager — a check for Linda Mangano was in the pile.

Evwiehor said he handed the check to the controller, another Singh employee, who told him, “Leave it alone. You’re not supposed to see it.”

The Evwiehors are required to testify as part of a non-prosecution agreement.

Also on Wednesday, Susan Accardo, a vice president at Accu Data, testified about how her company processed payrolls for Singh’s companies and paid his several hundred employees.

Among those employees from 2010 to 2014 was Linda Mangano, she said during questioning by Caffarone.

“She was the top wage earner,” Accardo said.

Using her company’s payroll records, she showed that Linda Mangano was paid a total of $454,278.96 during those years.

Caffarone had her review a summary of Singh’s top wage earners for each of those years. Linda Mangano topped the list for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. She didn’t make the list in 2014 because that year she was not paid through the regular payroll, Accardo testified.

Employee paychecks were delivered to each restaurant for distribution, but again, Melissa Rodak Evwiehor said, Linda Mangano’s check was treated differently. Her check was given either to Singh or to the company’s comptroller, Robert Lobo, she said. One of them would deliver the check to her home or go to her branch of the Bethpage Federal Credit Union and deposit it for her into her joint account with Edward Mangano.

“How many other employees did Mr. Singh do this for?” Caffarone asked.

“None,” Evwiehor said.

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