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Power on Trial: Manganos' retrial is now in the hands of the jury

Attorney Matthew Brissenden, left, arrives with Edward and

Attorney Matthew Brissenden, left, arrives with Edward and Linda Mangano at federal court in Central Islip on Thursday. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Deliberations begin

At 12:12 p.m. Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack sent jurors off to deliberate — on the fourth day of the sixth week of the retrial of Edward Mangano, Nassau’s former county executive, and Linda Mangano, his wife.

For more than 90 minutes, Azrack had read aloud 47 pages of jury instructions.

“It’s not my favorite way to communicate with a jury,” she said, “but because there’s a need for precision, it’s important that I get the words just right, and so that’s why I will be reading,” Azrack said — as many jurors followed along on their own copies of the charge.

The room was mostly silent — save for the flipping of pages — as Azrack had carefully detailed everything from the roles of the court and the jury to the elements of each of the 11 charges against the Manganos.

At the prosecution table, the three assistant U.S. attorneys followed along, making notes from time to time. So did the Manganos and their attorneys, seated at the defense table across the room.

The cover page of the charge sheet included a table of contents, with information organized under the headings of introduction, general instructions, substantive instructions and final instructions.

“Remember that the parties and the Court are relying upon you to give full and conscientious consideration to the issues and evidence before you,” Azrack read. “By doing so, you carry out to the fullest your oaths as jurors.”

A few moments later, prosecutors, defense attorneys and spectators alike rose to their feet, as the jurors filed from the courtroom.

A whole lot of law

The instructions read by Azrack addressed in detail several issues that jurors heard about — from one side or the other — during the trial.

For example, both Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano’s attorney, and John Carman, who is representing Linda Mangano, during the trial had hammered away at the credibility of government witness Harendra Singh.

“If you find that a witness has willfully testified falsely about an important matter, you may disregard the witnesses entire testimony, or you may accept as much of the testimony as you find to be true and disregard what you find to be false,” Azrack instructed jurors.

Singh, several former Singh employees, and other witnesses testified at trial under non-prosecution or other agreements with the government.

“The government is permitted to enter into these kind of agreements,” Azrack instructed jurors, later adding, “However, you should bear in mind that such witnesses have an interest in this case different from any ordinary witness…the testimony of cooperating and immunized witnesses should be examined by you with great care and caution.”

Friendship

Keating and Carman, during the trial, referred to the decadeslong friendship between Singh and the Manganos — arguing that Singh often gave gifts to the Manganos.

On Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Caffarone — as prosecutors have throughout the trial — challenged the assertion that vacations and other things given to the Mangano family by Singh were gifts. During the government’s final summation, he called them “bribes” instead.

“Bribery…is not proven if you find that a gift is given to and accepted by a public official solely out of friendship or some other motive wholly unrelated to influencing official action,” Azrack instructed jurors.

However, she went on, “If you find that things of value were accepted by the defendant in exchange for the promise of performance of official acts, that is sufficient for you to find a corrupt intent, regardless of any friendship that may have existed between the defendant and Mr. Singh.”

Uncalled witnesses

During the retrial, Keating often made mention of witnesses — some of whom had testified in last year’s trial — who were not called by the government this time around. Among them were Frederick Mei, a former Oyster Bay deputy town attorney, and Butch Yamali, head of a catering group.

“There are several persons whose names you heard during the course of the trial who did not testify,” Azrack told jurors. “I instruct you that each party had equal opportunity or lack of opportunity to call those witnesses … you should, however, remember my instruction that the law does not impose on a defendant in a criminal case the burden or duty of calling any witnesses or producing any evidence; rather the burden of proof remains, at all times, with the government.”

Back on Monday

As jurors deliberated (and as prosecutors and defense attorneys double checked exhibits that will go back to jurors in the deliberation room), the cleanup began.

Prosecutors began clearing away their space. And defense attorneys began packing away papers — with Linda Mangano, as she did last time around, giving a side room a cleaning.

At one point, defense attorneys broke out sandwiches and drinks during the wait.

It was almost 3 p.m. when word came that jurors — one of whom apparently needed to end the day early — soon would be heading home.

The Manganos donned their coats.

So did Keating.

And the courtroom emptied quickly.

Deliberations are slated to resume Monday.

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