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Power on Trial: Summations begin in the Manganos' retrial

Edward and Linda Mangano arrive at federal court

Edward and Linda Mangano arrive at federal court in Central Islip on Feb. 14. Credit: James Carbone

A change in the lineup

Last time around, Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile had the prosecution’s last word, in a rebuttal argument.

On Monday, however, she was first up, presenting the first summation for the prosecution.

But that’s hardly where the differences ended.

In last year’s trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Tierney took jurors through the crimes alleged to have been committed by Edward Mangano, Nassau’s former county executive, Linda Mangano, his wife, and John Venditto, former supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay. Venditto was acquitted of all charges.

Back then, Tierney made much of testimony presented by the prosecution’s key witness, Harendra Singh — who has pleaded guilty to bribery and other charges and is awaiting sentencing, as part of an agreement with the government.

Mirabile, by contrast, emphasized testimony from career Nassau County workers, an outside attorney for Oyster Bay, a designer, a graphic artist, a marketer and other noncooperating witnesses — “ordinary working people,” she said — this time using Singh to buttress their testimony.

At one point, Mirabile, in describing one witness, talked about credibility — and how U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack likely would instruct jurors on that point.

Mirabile said that Michael Schlenoff, of Nassau’s purchasing department, who testified that he felt pressured over the bread and rolls contract, was credible.

“I submit to you that Mr. Schlenoff passes all the markers, with flying colors.”

She said no such thing about Singh.

In fact, at her first mention of Singh’s name, several jurors appeared to cringe.

Noteworthy

During testimony, jurors are allowed to take notes — and several did.

For summations, however, since lawyers are making arguments rather than soliciting testimony, the notebooks were left behind.

And while jurors usually could look to witnesses, across the room on the witness stand, or look to defense and prosecutors at their respective tables, that also changed on Monday, when lawyers made their statements to jurors from a lectern a few feet from the jury box.

Mirabile talked to jurors from behind the lectern, occasionally stepping to the side take a sip or two of water.

Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano’s attorney, used both the lectern — a small one, about the size of a tall high chair — and a table in front of the jury.

Where Mirabile stepped back from time to time, Keating stepped forward to move papers from lectern to table — and sometimes to address jurors.

At one point, he approached the panel with a photocopied picture of Singh, taken in September, leaving his home in Laurel Hollow — with a cellphone in his hand.

According to earlier testimony, Singh is not supposed to be using cellphones while out on bail pending sentencing.

Keating used the photo to challenge Singh’s credibility — whether he be on or off the witness stand.

Singh, he told jurors at one point, was a sociopath, “a man who sat before you and perjured himself dozens and dozens of times … I don’t know how you could stand it.”

Novel graphics

Mirabile made use of graphics — not seen during the first trial — to make the prosecution case easier for jurors to understand.

First up — after the U.S. Justice Department seal with “The United States of America v Edward Mangano and Linda Mangano” — was one that said BRIBES across the top, in red, OFFICIAL ACTIONS toward the bottom and a bar showing the years 2010 to 2014 in the middle.

Mirabile used the graphic as she tied alleged bribes to what prosecutors called official actions.

In 2010, it was a Mangano family vacation paid for by Singh and a $42,000 discount for Mangano’s campaign tied, Mirabile said, to Mangano’s efforts to help Singh secure millions of dollars in Town of Oyster Bay backed loans and a no-show job for Linda Mangano.

Slide over to 2011, and Mirabile talked about vacations in Saratoga Springs and Marcos Island paid for by Singh — while Linda Mangano stayed in a no-show job.

In 2012, the graphic showed a massage chair for Edward Mangano and an expensive watch Singh also bought for Mangano’s son. That, Mirabile said, was tied to Mangano’s efforts on an emergency contract Singh got to provide food to workers after superstorm Sandy at Nassau’s office of emergency services and a contract awarded to — and then refused by — Singh’s wife to provide bread and rolls to the county jail.

In 2013, a vacation to Turks and Caicos for the Manganos, along with the purchase and installation of wood flooring for their bedroom, was tied to a contract Singh received to provide food to an Off Track Betting facility, a contract Singh asked to get out of after three months because it was not profitable.

Finally, for 2014, Mirabile talked about a trip to Amelia Island, Fla., also paid for by Singh — during a time when Linda Mangano still was receiving a paycheck from Singh.

“He doesn’t have to take official action, but only has to agree,” Mirabile said at one point, referring to Edward Mangano, who sat at the defendant’s table typing on a computer.

“Ed Mangano agreed to take official action,” Mirabile repeated, a few beats later, “That alone is enough to convict him.” 

Count by count

Mirabile’s dissection of evidence against Edward Mangano and Linda Mangano, unlike the first time around, hewed closely to language jurors will see on the verdict sheet.

Frequently pointing across the room to Edward Mangano, she went through the charge of conspiracy to commit federal bribery, marshaling evidence about Mangano’s involvement in the bread and rolls and office of emergency management food contracts.

She also detailed evidence that prosecutors contend support federal program bribery and extortion charges against Edward Mangano, false statement charges against Linda Mangano and obstruction of justice charges against both.

In one instance, a witness’ use of Gmail, Mirabile explained at one point, was enough to support wire fraud — because Google doesn’t have a server in New York state.

At another, in explaining what “Accepted Things of Value” — another graphic — meant, Mirabile detailed seven separate elements. And still later, she did the same in going through each of the 11 “lies” Linda Mangano is alleged to have told officials during three interviews.

During much of the prosecution’s first summation, Linda Mangano was writing — and from time to time, conversing with Edward Mangano.

The couple had two full rows of supporters in the courtroom.

Loose ends

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors asked Singh about a Corvette that Edward Mangano owned. On Monday, Mirabile referred the sports car again — in speaking about an expensive, specially made Recaro chair Singh bought Mangano that was designed like the seat of a sports car.

Last week, both sides agreed to enter Edward Mangano’s disclosure statements from the years he was county executive. On Monday, Mirabile referenced those, too — noting that Mangano had never disclosed Singh’s gifts, from chairs to vacations, on his disclosure form.

Tuesday morning

Keating will continue his summation on Tuesday morning.

Still, over the about one hour and 40 minutes he had on Monday, Keating made quick work of going after Singh’s credibility — and his relationship with the Town of Oyster Bay.

Mirabile told jurors earlier that the defense would argue that “Oyster Bay never said no to Singh.”

At that point, Keating — who had been shaking his head during other portions of Mirabile’s summation — nodded and smiled.

When his turn came, Keating spent about an hour describing Singh’s relationship with Oyster Bay, covering everything from payments Singh gave former deputy town attorney Federick Mei — who has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes — to sweetheart deals Singh won from the town long before Mangano became county executive.

“The government entirely ignored the past …,” Keating said. “The town never said no.”

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