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All sides rest in Mangano corruption case as testimony ends

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack set closing arguments to begin Monday.

Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, right, and

Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, right, and his wife, Linda,  arrive at federal court in Central Islip to be greeted by a supporter, Samson F. Freundlich on Thursday. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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

Testimony ended Thursday in the federal corruption retrial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife Linda after the last in a five-week series of prosecution witnesses stepped down and the defense rested its case without calling anyone to the stand.

The prosecution presented as its final witnesses two FBI officials, who used financial and phone records to punctuate the main points in the government's case against the Bethpage couple.

It includes accusations they conspired to cover up bribes that a longtime family friend, restaurateur Harendra Singh, allegedly paid the GOP official.

The Manganos maintain their innocence and are standing trial in Central Islip for a second time after an initial proceeding ended in May 2018 in a mistrial. Former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto won an acquittal on bribery and other charges at that proceeding.

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack reminded the couple Thursday that each had a right to take the witness stand.

"Mr. and Mrs. Mangano, you have a right to testify at this trial, do you understand that?” she said after both sides rested their cases and jurors had left.

Both husband and wife said they understood and had discussed the possibility with their lawyers.

Azrack then asked if either would take the stand.

"No, your honor," Edward Mangano answered first, before his wife echoed his response.

"No, your honor," she said.

Azrack also ruled against defense motions to dismiss parts of the 11-count indictment against the Manganos after testimony concluded. She set the trial's closing arguments to begin Monday.

The government claims Singh bribed Edward Mangano with an alleged $450,000 “no-show” job for Linda Mangano, free vacations and meals, two chairs that together were worth more than $6,000, wood flooring for Manganos' bedroom and a $7,300 wristwatch for one of their sons on his 21st birthday.

Prosecutors say that in exchange, the one-time Republican leader steered two county contracts to Singh that together were for more than $400,000.

They've also alleged he used his political clout after ascending to the helm of Nassau's government in January 2010 to influence Oyster Bay officials into backing $20 million in loans for Singh.

The government broke the alleged bribes down by dollars and cents for the jury Thursday.

FBI forensic accountant William Delgais testified Singh paid $489,410.95 in bribes to Edward Mangano from 2010 to 2014 — the bulk of it being $454,000 in paychecks to Linda Mangano.

The witness said he based his analysis on bank records, credit card accounts and tax returns from Singh and the Manganos.

"Who paid the $489,410.95 to Ed and Linda Mangano?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz asked.

"Harendra Singh," the witness replied.

Delgais also described the Manganos' income, showing that Edward Mangano's salary dropped from $298,392 in 2009 when he was a private practice lawyer and a part-time county legislator to $174,896 in 2010 when he took office as county executive.

Linda Mangano got her job with Singh in April 2010. The FBI official said records showed she received $88,000 in pay from Singh that year, between $110,000 and $118,000 for each of the next three years and $23,079 in 2014 when her employment with him ended.

The trail of numbers then led outside Nassau County to five vacation venues, with Delgais showing a pattern of lopsided spending by Singh and the Manganos when their families traveled together.

In all, Singh spent $67,465.53 and the Manganos spent $6,878.55 while on the trips. In addition, Singh laid out another $19,227.32 for other trip expenses, the witness said.

Later, Delgais acknowledged during questioning by Edward Mangano's attorney, Kevin Keating, that Singh's brother's family went on one Florida trip, inflating the restaurateur's total bottom line.

The FBI official also told jurors the Manganos usually made cash withdrawals, averaging $400 to $500, at least once a month. But Delgais noted that there was a gap in that activity, with no withdrawals between late August to mid-November 2012. 

That was within the time witness Anthony Gulino, who owned a fencing company and competed for Nassau contracts, testified he gave Edward Mangano $3,600 in cash after his company did a porch railing repair at the Manganos' home.

Gulino said Mangano wrote him a check for the same amount to make it look like he had paid for the repair, and that he gave the then-county executive the cash to ensure "access" to him — an account the defense calls fictional.

During a cross-examination, Keating used Delgais' analysis to point out an even longer gap in the Manganos' cash withdrawals — a period from October 2013 to March 2014.

Delgais also acknowledged he used Singh's trial testimony as the basis for his assertion that the two families didn't spend money on each other's vacations before 2010.

Earlier Thursday, FBI Special Agent William Sena testified about records of phone calls between Edward Mangano, Singh and some main players in the trial.

In part, he zeroed in on April 2010, the month prosecutors say a key meeting involving Edward Mangano, Singh and Oyster Bay officials took place at the political headquarters of Venditto concerning the municipality's backing of loans for Singh. 

Sena showed jurors a chart indicating Mangano that month spoke 70 times to Singh and five times to Venditto.

The FBI agent also testified he tracked phone calls between Singh and Michael Sposato, then Nassau's sheriff and in charge of the jail, when prosecutors say Singh was lobbying for a bread-and-rolls contract worth about $200,000 at the East Meadow facility.

The government alleges Edward Mangano steered that contract from a low bidder to Singh as a kickback. The defense claims Singh won only part of the contract after the late Peter Schmitt, then the county legislature's presiding officer, stressed contracts should go to local vendors.

Sena noted the number of phone calls between Singh and Sposato covered three pages during the time in question, while calls from three other years added up to about one page.

Also Thursday, Michael Landesberg, who was a manager in Singh’s now-defunct restaurant empire, testified that in 2011 a payroll official burst into tears when she couldn’t pay employees, while also telling him Linda Mangano was getting a check every week.

“She said it wasn’t right,” Landesberg added. “Linda Mangano was getting paid by the company, and staff were not getting their paychecks.”

Landesberg is among the former Singh employees and outside contractors who testified they handled marketing and other tasks Linda Mangano, 55, reportedly credited to herself when speaking to the FBI in 2015.

She is facing five felony charges, including three counts of making false statements to federal officials.

Edward Mangano, who is 56, faces charges of bribery, extortion, conspiracy and wire fraud.

Landesberg also offered jurors an insider's look at culinary perks that prosecutors say Singh used to bribe Edward Mangano.

For the Manganos, staff used either the restaurant software's "H Comp" button, a reference to Singh's nickname, or the "VIP Comp" button so they could follow his instructions not to charge the couple for meals, Landesberg said.

He also said he organized the production and delivery of food from HR Singletons, Singh's one-time flagship restaurant in Bethpage, to the county's Emergency Operations Center after superstorm Sandy in 2012. 

He said a "small amount" of food included dishes such as veal, filet mignon and shrimp for a group of about 10 to 15 people, a step above what the "masses" got.

Prosecutors have alleged Edward Mangano steered an emergency food contract worth more than $230,000 to Singh after the storm as one of the alleged kickbacks for bribes.

The defense says other county workers with whom Singh had relationships made sure he got the business.

Vacation spending

The FBI used a series of charts to show spending by the Singhs and the Manganos on five vacations they took together from 2010 to 2014, and listed the breakdown for each of them:

• On a 2010 trip to Niagara Falls, the Singhs spent $5,034 and the Manganos spent $1,286.

• On a 2011 trip to Saratoga Springs, the Singhs spent $2,839.10 and the Manganos spent $512.81.

• On a 2011 trip to Marco Island, Florida, the Singhs spent $20,185.47 and the Manganos spent $1,931.37

• On a 2013 trip to Turks and Caicos Islands, the Singhs spent $26,227.01 and the Manganos spent $638.64.

• On a 2014 trip to Amelia Island, Florida, the Singhs spent $13,179.89 and the Manganos spent $2,509.28.

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