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Power on Trial: Defense continues to challenge Singh's testimony

Harendra Singh is seen outside federal court in

Harendra Singh is seen outside federal court in Central Islip on March 8, 2018. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Lightning round

Kevin Keating, continuing his cross examination, bore down even harder in his quest to shred Harendra Singh’s credibility, veering from topic to topic while at the same time firmly brushing aside Singh’s requests to “let me explain.”

Within the first hour alone Wednesday during the retrial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife Linda, Keating, by my count, confronted Singh with 23 defense exhibits — including texts, emails and documents, many of which were not introduced at the first trial.

In addition, Keating repeatedly read to Singh questions he answered — sometimes differently — during the first trial.

As for pace, Keating — as prosecutors did before him — kept things moving.

It took him one hour flat to press Singh on:

  • His expediting business
  • Whether he had ever received a contract under $25,000 during Edward Mangano’s time in office (Singh said he did not.)
  • A massage chair Singh bought for Mangano
  • Mangano’s 50th birthday boat-ride fundraiser
  • Singh’s wife, Ruby, receiving cash from Singh businesses
  • Then it was back to Singh’s expediting business
  • Whether he tried to help a client secure a contract in North Bellport
  • Or at Cedar Beach in Brookhaven
  • Singh’s late concessionaire payments to the Town of Oyster Bay
  • An inventory of equipment Singh said town workers damaged — and for which he was reimbursed
  • Loans backed by the town
  • An opinion letter Singh paid a law firm for to support the town’s backing of loans for Singh’s business
  • Back to the loans
  • An elliptical machine in Singh’s home that he offered to give Linda Mangano
  • Back to the loans
  • Changes in a concession agreement Singh had with the town
  • And Singh’s quest to get a contract to provide bread and rolls to the county jail

All that, and the court’s first break wouldn’t come until some 15 minutes later.

Happy birthday

Keating challenged Singh’s testimony Tuesday that the former restaurateur had nothing to do with planning a boat-ride fundraiser for Edward Mangano’s 50th birthday.

“Didn’t you plan it?” Keating pressed.

“No,” Singh answered.

“Wasn’t it your idea?” Keating continued — as some in the jury, as seems to have become a practice when Keating directly challenges Singh’s veracity, leaned forward.

“No,” Singh answered.

Later, Keating would introduce an exhibit — an email from one of Singh’s friends to Singh, which read, in part:

“Hi H.

Awhile ago you mentioned that we should put together a Cruise Around Manhattan fundraiser for September …”

The email was dated August 2012.

The birthday fundraiser, according to evidence entered at both trials, was held the next month.

Is that a question?

At one point, Keating asked Singh about earlier testimony regarding whether “your wife, Ruby, would take thousands and thousands of dollars in cash from Singletons and you denied it?”

“Yes,” Singh replied.

A short time later, after taking Singh through a defense exhibit, Keating went on, “You emphatically deny this and in front of this jury!”

“Is that a question?” U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack interjected.

“No, it wasn’t,” Keating replied, “I’ll withdraw it.”

The long way around

At a few points, Keating cut Singh off as he attempted to take a long way around a short answer.

In one instance, Keating asked Singh about exhibits related to what appeared to be a consulting agreement between his expediting company and a firm seeking zoning changes for a project in North Bellport.

Keating asked Singh whether he saw the words “North Bellport Consulting Agreement” at the bottom of one document.

“May I explain?” Singh — as he has for several questions — asked.

“Will you answer the question, please,” Keating said.

“I can’t answer the way you are asking,” Singh replied, “May I explain, please?”

“Does [it] say North Bellport consulting agreement?” Keating pressed, once more — the jury, by now, watching one side and then the other.

“May I read it please?” Singh asked.

He did so.

And then he asked Keating, "What was the question?”

“Does the email say North Bellport consulting agreement?” Keating asked once more.

There was a pause.

And then Singh leaned into the microphone to answer.

“Yes, I see,” he said.

Tax time

Keating asked, and later doubled back to ask, Singh about $25,000 in bribes he said he paid to former deputy Oyster Bay Town attorney Frederick Mei.

Mei, who testified during last year’s trial, in 2015 secretly pleaded guilty to taking bribes a town concessionaire. He has agreed to cooperate with the government — and has yet to testify at the retrial.

“I am assuming you did not give him a 1099 for that?” Keating asked, referring to Singh’s payments to Mei.

“No,” Singh replied.

The 1099 forms are used to report income — other than that paid by an employer — to the Internal Revenue Service.

Breakfast club

Singh’s calendar showed that the former restaurant mogul’s breakfast meetings with former Nassau Sheriff Michael Sposato extended well beyond the time that Singh says he was pressing the sheriff to secure a contract for his wife’s bakery to provide bread and rolls to the county jail.

Keating, during cross examination, sought to have Singh explain why.

The “sheriff has the power to evict people, subject to eviction orders and to seize assets where there are forfeitures?” Keating asked.

“Yes,” Singh replied.

“You would meet with Sheriff Sposato about those issues?” Keating asked.

“No,” Singh replied.

Keating then showed a 2011 email from a Singh friend to Singh seeking assistance with an issue involving the Suffolk County sheriff’s department.

“You would meet with Michael Sposato and ask help, a favor, to see if there was anything that could be done to assist [Singh’s friend],” Keating said. “And you are as sure of that as everything else you have told this jury?”

The prosecution objected — a fraction of a second before the judge sustained it.

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