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Power on Trial: Linda Mangano's lawyer v. prosecutors

Edward and Linda Mangano arrive at federal court

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

Not greedy, not horrible

John Carman, Linda Mangano’s attorney, started off his summation Wednesday by telling jurors about Mangano and her husband, Edward, the former Nassau County executive.

“They really are not the horrible, greedy people they have been portrayed to be at this trial,” Carman said.

Later, Carman noted that Linda Mangano was one of the rare on-the books employees of Harendra Singh’s. “By my rough calculations, Linda is the only Singh employee who paid her taxes,” he said.

Carman dismissed several other Singh employees who testified at the retrial as “tax evaders” because they have non-prosecution deals with the government that keep them from having to pay taxes on income Singh paid them in cash.

Singh in love

Carman hit hard on the relationship Linda Mangano had with Singh by repeatedly using the word “love."

“That is a big word,” Carman told jurors. “It is a word we reserve for the people in our lives that we care the most about.”

He went on to ask, “Did Singh love Linda?”

“I think you could easily conclude that he did — perhaps just not as much as he loved himself,” Carman said.

Piling it on

Early on, Carman worked to dismiss the testimony of a host of prosecution witnesses — many of whom said they did marketing, design and graphic work with no help from Linda Mangano.

He told the jury that such testimony, along with that of others, belonged in “the garbage” of “Pile Three.”

Pile Two, he said, was evidence about loan guarantees, bread and roll contracts and other testimony that applied only to the government’s case against Edward Mangano.

Pile One is materials related only to charges against Linda Mangano, who is, among other things, charged with making false statements to federal agents.

But Pile Three?

“Here is what I think you should put in there,” Carman said. He cited evidence that Linda Mangano’s salary was higher than Singh employees who did more work, and testimony from Singh employees who said they never saw Linda Mangano working at Singh restaurants where she never worked; and a whole lot more.

In short, Carman said, “Any evidence where the only purpose is to make you jealous or just plain mad that you don’t have a low-show job.”

With pen in hand

As he did during the first trial, Carman hit hard at the FBI and prosecutors on many fronts — including the decision to use pen and paper to make notes of conversations the government had with Linda Mangano.

“They are using the most primitive method of recording information available in the 21st century,” he said.

At one point, Carman referred to a television show to bolster his argument.

He recalled that just before the trial, he was watching the Netflix series, "Mindhunter." Carman continued,  "In Episode 5, Agent [Bill] Tench has a tape recorder the size of a suitcase … He says to the guy, 'You don’t mind us tape recording this, right, because it’s so much easier than writing it down?'”

Carman said, “I almost fell off the couch.”

He noted that the show was based on events that happened in the 1970s, when it was “easier to lug a tape recorder around than write it down … It’s 50 years ago, but you, ladies and gentlemen, you get a pad and a pen.”

Carman v. the government

At one point, Carman acknowledged, “I am hammering the government.” And, he said, he knew the government did not like it — but that he was doing it anyway.

He was a man of his word.

Throughout his summation, Carman took aim at the FBI, its procedures, prosecutors and the U.S. Justice Department.

Carman told jurors about some of FBI Special Agent Laura Spence’s testimony — during which she said she did not recall some events. And a ripple of shock went through the prosecution side of the courtroom when Carman said, “Those 'I don’t recalls,' they remind me of someone. They remind me,” he said, “of Mr. Singh.”

“This is what you say when you can’t say,” Carman went on.

Later, in arguing about the government’s zeal in gathering Linda Mangano’s false statements in interviews, Carman said, “Sixty-eight prosecutors all drop their MS-13 files and come to a Linda Mangano meeting.”

Still later, in addressing the 400-plus exhibits introduced by prosecutors, Carman, jokingly, referenced “Government’s Exhibit four million, six hundred, thirty two.

And still later, he went on to take on what he called the justice department’s flawed investigative policies, saying, that beyond Spence, there was “plenty of blame to go around.”

“This was truly a team effort,” he said, referring to the prosecution’s efforts to build a false statement case against Linda Mangano, “four years of dedication to the goal.”

TV time

If Carman had "Mindhunter," Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Caffarone in late afternoon used fantasy and sci-fi to drive the prosecution’s case home during prosecution summations.

In describing the influence prosecutors say Edward Mangano exerted on John Venditto, Oyster Bay’s former supervisor, to get Singh town-backed loans, Caffarone described a culture of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours — that’s Nassau County politics.”

In such a culture, he said, Mangano and Venditto traded favors like “Lord Baelish from Game of Thrones.” (For the uninitiated, Lord Petyr Baelish was Master of the Coin on the Small Council — and a skilled manipulator and master at gaining intelligence.)

Later, in describing how Kevin Keating, Mangano’s attorney, had attempted to persuade jurors that an Oyster Bay official, Leonard Genova, had talked to Mangano’s former law partner, William Savino, about town-backed loans, Caffarone pulled up a series of Keating’s questions on the courtroom’s big screen.

In each instance, Keating asked the witness about “the person you were speaking to” or some such variation.

Caffarone used Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter novels — “he who must not be named” — to cover that one.

Blooming onion

Caffarone even went to the Outback Steakhouse menu to illustrate a point about what prosecutors contend was Mangano’s effort to steer a contract for bread and rolls for the Nassau County jail to a bakery operated by Singh’s wife, Ruby.

For that, he went to the Outback dessert menu. Caffarone described how what was billed as an effort to “split” the bread and rolls contract between the Singh bakery and a Rockland County bakery — which initially had been recommended for the contract — instead would have given Singh some 95 percent of the $200,000 award.

In short, the “split” amounted to agreeing to share a dessert, leaving the restaurant table and returning to find that all was left of your share was a cherry and remnants of whipped cream, Caffarone said.

The government strikes back

Caffarone at one point defended Spence’s testimony about statements Linda Mangano made to prosecutors. “Agent Spence is not making this up,” he said. “She is telling you what Mrs. Mangano said during those interviews.”

The prosecutor also drew an objection from Keating after he told jurors about arguments Keating “made up” in corralling some trial evidence for Edward Mangano’s defense.

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack sustained the objection, and Caffarone thereafter referred to “arguments he made.”

Gone fishing

Speaking about Singh, the government’s key witness, Caffarone pointed to the defense table and said, “He’s not our friend, he’s their friend.”

Caffarone said Singh “had done some terrible things.” But Caffarone stressed to jurors that Singh’s testimony was backed up by testimony from witnesses — many of whom have no deals with the government.

Referring to conversations captured by wiretaps, Caffarone said Singh was lying when he told town officials and others that Mangano had done nothing for him.

At the time Singh was being wiretapped, Caffarone said, he knew federal officials already had launched an investigation.

“He’s trying to keep things from the FBI,” Caffarone said.

“How does a fish get caught?” the prosecutor asked.

“He opens his mouth.”

In such a situation, he went on, “Today’s friend is tomorrow’s government witness.”

“Just ask the Manganos,” he said.

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