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Power on Trial: Testimony ends

Edward and Linda Mangano arrive at federal court

Edward and Linda Mangano arrive at federal court in Central Islip on Feb. 13. Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

To Excel

Michael Landesberg, former manager for the Singh Hospitality Group, on Thursday became the latest former Singh employee to be queried about Excel spreadsheets.

“Have you ever seen an Excel sheet used in inviting someone to a dry run or a tasting?” prosecutor Lara Treinis Gatz asked, referring to the restaurant group’s practice of inviting friends and family to a meal to assess a venue’s readiness for an opening.

“I have not,” Landesberg responded.

One allegation against Linda Mangano is that she lied to the FBI about using spreadsheets to handle invite lists for gatherings and tastings.

In earlier testimony during the retrial, Harendra Singh, on cross-examination, agreed that Linda Mangano had sent another Singh employee an Excel spreadsheet with names and addresses of invitees to a women’s business luncheon.

Treinis Gatz, in continued questioning, began asking Landesberg about payroll practices in the restaurant group.

“That’s when I would have an Excel [work] sheet,” Landesberg said.

“I’m sorry?” Treinis Gatz, who apparently had hadn’t heard him, asked.

“That was when I had an Excel time sheet,” repeated Landesberg, who said in handling payroll, “I just basically input the information into an Excel time sheet.”

Survival

Landesberg, on direct and during cross-examination, was asked about Singh’s financial difficulties and how they affected restaurant employees and their compensation.

“It was either them, or me,” Landesberg replied, in explaining what he would do in response to Singh’s frequent requests to trim staff and expenses.

“I would cut time, or, sometimes let employees go to satisfy Mr. Singh’s requirements,” Landesberg said.

Non-prosecution agreement

On cross-examination, John Carman, Linda Mangano’s attorney, grilled Landesberg about his non-prosecution agreement with federal officials.

At one point, Carman said Landesberg was testifying against Edward and Linda Mangano so he would not have to pay taxes on cash earnings he received as a portion of his salary.

“That is really taken out of context,” Landesberg shot back, going on to say the statute of limitations had expired on his federal tax obligations.

As for testifying against the Manganos, he said, “I was going to do [that] regardless.”

“You were willing to testify against Ed and Linda Mangano without the financial benefit of not having to pay back taxes?” Carman asked

“Absolutely,” Landesberg shot back.

Break time

At 10:42 a.m., the court took a break after Carman had completed his questioning.

During that time, Edward Mangano and his attorney, Kevin Keating, could be seen talking in a meeting room.

At one point, prosecutors and Keating left the courtroom to talk.

At 11:16 a.m., U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack returned to the courtroom — but the sides were still having discussions.

Four minutes later, Azrack moved to leave the courtroom — just as the lawyers were coming back in.

She returned to the bench.

“Soooo, are you ready?” she said.

“We need the jury,” one prosecutor said.

“We need the jury,” the judge repeated.

About five minutes later, testimony resumed — with the first of two FBI witnesses.

At rest

At 3:55 p.m., after the lunch break, Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile rose from the prosecution table.

“The United States rests,” she told Azrack.

Three stipulations — that is, agreements reached by the prosecution and defense — then were read into the record by Keating, Edward Mangano’s lawyer.

Afterward, Keating told the judge, “With that, the defense rests.”

But not so fast.

“We are still here,” Carman, Linda Mangano’s attorney, called out from the defense table. A few second later, co-counsel Sara Pervez rose from her seat to say, “Mrs. Mangano rests.”

“I didn’t forget you, Ms. Perez,” Azrack said.

“I might forget Mr. Carman,” she went on, as the courtroom burst into laughter.

The jury was dismissed at 3:59 p.m.

Among the missing

Azrack, after hearing arguments from both sides, decided jurors would consider all charges — rather than, as the defense had requested, having some counts in the indictment dismissed.

From there, the sides went on to tackle instructions that Azrack will give jurors before they begin deliberations.

At one point, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Caffarone referred to a defense request for jury instructions about a “missing witness.”

The witness in question was Frederick Mei, former deputy town attorney for Oyster Bay, who has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Singh — and who, more to the point, testified at the first trial but was not among prosecution witnesses at the retrial.

There’s “no reason for a missing witness charge, ” Caffarone said.

“Did you not subpoena him?” Azrack asked defense lawyers.

“Did you ask the government to produce him?” she went on.

The defense had done neither.

“I think this is a case of be careful what you wish for,” Azrack said, as the sides continued on to other matters.

Next week

Closing arguments are slated for Monday and Tuesday. Mirabile will go first for the government. She’ll be followed by Keating, Carman and, finally, Caffarone.

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