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Power on Trial: The Manganos' retrial -- what to call it?

Edward and Linda Mangano arrive Wednesday at federal

Edward and Linda Mangano arrive Wednesday at federal court in Central Islip. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Slip of the lip

Under cross examination from Linda Mangano’s attorney, John Carman, jurors heard reference to the Mangano’s “first trial” from the prosecution’s opening witness on Wednesday.

In October, U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack ruled that the phrase “prior proceeding” was to be used by lawyers during the retrial of Mangano and her husband, Edward Mangano, Nassau’s former county executive.

The idea, generally, was that jurors in the second trial would be spared whatever implications they might draw from knowing that the Manganos were being tried again, after the first proceeding ended in a mistrial.

But Joseph Scalice, once the general manager for restaurants owned by Harendra Singh, let slip during cross examination that he had rendered similar testimony during the “last trial.” According to prosecutors, Singh, a former restaurateur, plied the Manganos with expensive gifts and benefited from official action by Edward Mangano.

On Tuesday, during opening statements, and again during cross examination of prosecution witnesses Wednesday, Carman did mention the court-approved “prior proceeding.”

Still, the mention of a “last trial” didn’t appear to garner much attention from jurors, who spent much of the morning with Carman leading Scalice through email after email after email after email exchange about two projects Scalice and Linda Mangano had worked on together.

There were some 20 emails in all.

But under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz, Scalice testified that he ended up doing “60 to 70 percent of the work” over their four months or so of working together.

“I like things to be boom, boom, boom, boom,” he testified. “It was too long for my liking.”

Calculating woman

The courtroom went silent — memories of being called on in math class, perhaps — after Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Caffarone asked Wednesday’s second witness, Susan Accardo, to add up a few numbers.

“Add up the amounts Linda Mangano was to be paid,” Caffarone asked Accardo, who works for an outside firm that once handled payroll for Singh’s restaurants. “I think your phone has a calculator on it.”

Accardo went to work, coming up with $435,600 as Mangano’s payroll total.

Caffarone had her add additional monies Mangano received by check that initially did not go through the company Accardo worked for.

More time passed.

There were a few coughs as Accardo went through papers on the witness stand.

And, again, she had an answer: $454,278.96.

“No further questions,” Caffarone said.

Into the light

At one point, Azrack asked Caffarone — who was questioning the day’s third witness, Melissa Rodak Evwiehor, a former Singh employee who handled payroll and personnel — to speak into the microphone.

“That probably would help,” he said, pulling a slender flexible coil toward himself, “because this is the light.”

The courtroom broke into chuckles as Caffarone quickly grabbed the second flexible coil — the actual microphone.

“Speak into the light,” Azrack quipped.

Just got paid

Evwiehor, under direct questioning, went into detail about how Singh paid many of his employees on the books, off the books and, in some instances, a combination of the two.

But Singh often had cash-flow issues.

“If we had cash funds available, we would pay cash,” she testified.

Otherwise, employees — with the exception of Linda Mangano — would not get paid until days or weeks later, once the cash began to flow again.

“Just like federal employees,” someone could be heard whispering in the spectator rows.

For the record, as of Wednesday, federal court employees still were being paid out of existing funding.

That does not, however, include federal prosecutors and marshals, who work for other federal agencies, said Eugene J. Corcoran, the court system’s district executive.

Should the shutdown continue after Jan. 31, when existing funding ends, court employees would join other federal workers going without paychecks, although all would be kept working as essential employees, he said.

Judges, meanwhile, continue to be paid. And even after Jan. 31, criminal cases are slated to proceed, Corcoran said.

But after Friday, the shutdown also will halt naturalization ceremonies, during which immigrants complete the process of becoming a U.S. citizen by taking an oath of allegiance, at federal courthouses in Brooklyn and Central Islip.

The Eastern District of New York is second only to Central California in the number of immigrants participating in the ceremonies — who total more than 50,000 each year, Corcoran said.

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