Happy Valentine’s Day
Jurors and alternates both put their celebration of the day on full view as they filed into the courtroom for Thursday’s testimony.
Almost every one — at least 14 of 16, by my count — wore something red, flecked with red or some other red-related hue.
It made for quite a colorful display — which was noticed by courtroom observers, who smiled and chuckled at the showing.
Early in Kevin Keating’s continued cross-examination of former Oyster Bay Town Attorney Leonard Genova, a woman in the courtroom, Theresa Walch, began stabbing her pointer finger toward the witness.
Before the jury entered, Walch, in speaking to a Newsday reporter, said she had decided to attend the trial after reading about Genova’s testimony Wednesday relating to a proposed mega mall near the old Cerro Wire property in Syosset.
Walch said she had been evicted from a trailer park in Syosset.
At one point, Keating asked Genova about the trailer park — and about a financial interest Genova and his father had in the property.
“Many of the residents filed grievances and complaints with the town?” Keating asked.
Genova said he could not recall.
“You don’t remember the hearing and protests?” Keating pressed.
Genova then acknowledged that he did, indeed, recall some protests.
By then, Walch was pointing a finger at Genova — who, from the witness stand, appeared to be pained by Walch’s actions.
U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack called lawyers up for a bench conference — as jurors and everyone else in the courtroom then watched Walch break, hysterically, into tears.
A court officer escorted Walch out to an overflow courtroom down the hall, where she would be able to listen to further testimony.
Walch said she had not planned an outburst, but was triggered by Genova’s initial testimony that he did not recall protests.
According to a series of Newsday stories, Syosset Park residents attended town board meetings to complain about evictions from the five-acre trailer park. Most were gone from the property by 2016.
According to the stories reports, the property on Jericho Turnpike was owned by STP Associates LLC, — a company in which Genova had been a partner and his father Jerome Genova remained a principal.
The company later sold the property for $10.1 million.
On Thursday, Genova testified that he did not declare his interest in STP on any disclosure form.
Once things settled down, Keating resumed his cross-examination, at several points asking Genova whether he recalled, or agreed with, some topic.
Much of the time, Genova answered, “No,” or “I don’t recall” — even after being asked to read statements he had given to the government — or testimony he had made at last year’s trial.
At one point, for example, Keating asked Genova about a 2010 email from former restaurateur Harendra Singh, in which Singh asked for a meeting related to his quest to have Oyster Bay guarantee loans for his private businesses.
Genova replied, via email, that he was on the way to Saratoga and would get back to Singh the next week.
“Did Harendra Singh continue his efforts to get you on Saturday and Sunday?” Keating asked.
“I don’t recall,” Genova answered.
“Saratoga was a brief vacation of sorts?” Keating went on.
“No,” Genova answered.
“Do you recall going to Saratoga,” Keating asked?
“Yes,” Genova replied.
Keating went on to show Genova a second email from Singh — sent over the weekend — which read, “Dear Lenny, is there any way you and I can meet on Monday at your convenience?”
“You were out of town?” when Singh sent the email, Keating asked.
“No,” Genova answered.
“You were back on Sunday?” Keating pressed.
“I don’t recall whether I was or not,” Genova responded.
On the April 2010 meeting
“John Venditto called you and said Ed Mangano wants to have a meeting on this?” Keating asked Genova, referring to Genova’s testimony about a meeting lawyers and other officials held to consider whether there was a way for Oyster Bay to legally guarantee Singh’s loans.
“Yes,” Genova answered.
“John Venditto chaired the meeting, right?” Keating went on.
“And Ed Mangano,” Genova said.
“Ed Mangano did?” Keating said, sounding surprised.
“I think that was my testimony yesterday, Sir,” Genova replied,
Keating then asked about a series of statements Genova made to the government in 2015 and 2016. They included assertions that Genova did not know — or did not recall — who set up the meeting, or whether Mangano was late to the meeting and other details.
“Does that refresh your recollection?” Keating asked each time, after reading or giving Genova copies of the statements to read.
“No,” Genova replied.
Several times, such back and forths engendered audible expressions of disbelief from supporters of Edward and Linda Mangano supporters in the courtroom.
At one point, Edward Mangano slapped a hand on the defense table in frustration.
Mile a minute
Keating asked Genova about the location of Venditto’s Massapequa campaign headquarters.
“It was about a mile off the Seaford expressway?” Keating asked.
“No,” Genova answered. “More than a mile.”
“How much more?” Keating pressed.
“I don’t know,” Genova said.
“One point one?,” Keating said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz objected, before Keating moved on to another area of questioning.
It was almost 12:30 p.m., and Keating still was bearing down on what Genova knew about town documents relating to loans for Singh and to amendments made to Singh’s concession agreements with Oyster Bay.
The defense attorney had just finished a series of questions concerning Government Exhibit 541 — an amendment to Singh’s concession at the town’s golf course.
“Judge,” Genova said, addressing Azrack, “I don’t know if we want to take a break because I have to use the bathroom.”
“We are going to take our lunch break,” Azrack said.
Treinis Gatz, on redirect, asked Genova about interviews he had with the government — some details of which he repeatedly had told Keating he could not recall.
“Are you denying that you made those statements?,” to the government, Treinis Gatz asked.
“No,” Genova replied.
“ . . . Did you lie?” to the government, Treinis asked.
Genova said yes, before — once again — telling jurors that in early interviews with federal officials he lied to protect himself because he still worked for Oyster Bay, and because he was scared.
During cross, Keating had hammered at inconsistencies between Genova's statements to the government and testimony during the retrial.