On the seventh day
It appeared as if Harendra Singh was adjusting to his long — and with cross-examination from two more defense attorneys yet to come, likely longer — stint on the witness stand.
In the second morning of cross-examination from Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano’s attorney, the two seemed to be getting into a rhythm in the trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife, Linda, and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.
Keating, in the morning and after breaks, jumped right into his questioning, an attacker going for potential prey.
There’s no “good morning” when court begins.
No salutation at all.
And Keating jumps from subject to subject, pressing Singh on an email in which he’s asking Mangano whether “you want to take the boys out” — Singh’s three sons and Mangano’s two sons — and then pushing Singh for yes and no answers on his dealings with his “crooked” accountant and broker.
But while Keating pushed the pace, Singh grappled for opportunities to shift the cross-examination back to what he wanted to say.
With just about every email and document put by the defense into evidence Tuesday and Wednesday, Singh requested reading time. In some instances, the review was swift. In others, molasses’ ability to crawl down ice seemed faster — as indicated when Keating, more than once, had to ask whether Singh had completed his review.
Yes or no
“I know where you are going there,” Singh said, talking over Keating, during one of the plentiful exchanges in which the attorney wanted a simple yes or no response — while Singh tried to seek permission to go beyond simple answers.
“I want to explain about that email,” Singh said at one point, while at others, he asked to elaborate on a text message or a bill or his cash-flow policies or his loans or his dealings with town and county officials.
Wednesday morning, U.S. District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack stepped in — again — to remind Singh to answer Keating’s questions. “Mr. Singh, Mr. Singh,” Azrack said, matter-of-factly, during the morning session. “In here you want to wait for a question, and then answer it.”
“OK, I’m sorry,” Singh replied, looking up toward the bench. “Thank you, your honor.”
State of the County
Mangano’s successor, Democrat Laura Curran, is slated to give her first State of the County address to Nassau residents Wednesday evening. By coincidence, the State of the County happened to come up in Singh’s morning cross-examination, too.
Singh was there at Mangano’s first State of the County in 2010.
And, Keating pointed out, at Mangano’s speeches in 2011, 2012, and 2013, too.
“This was an annual invite that he extended to you every March,” said Keating, using the invitation as one of many illustrations of genuine friendship between Singh and Mangano rather than the “business relationship” Singh repeatedly had described under prosecution questioning.
“I was a very good friend,” Singh testified, “and I was one of Ed’s first supporters.”
Across the room, at the bottom of the J-shaped defense table, Mangano — as he has since Singh took the stand — looked toward the witness and stared.
Fear of flying
Singh seemed genuinely surprised when Keating asked whether he knew that Mangano, his friend for decades, did not like air travel. “I didn’t know that,” Singh replied, “because we were flying to other places.”
Keating went on to query Singh about a trip both families made to Niagara Falls in Canada.
Initially, Singh testified, his plan was to fly.
But that turned into a three-day trip, by car, with the Mangano family and the Singh family making their way up and back in a two-vehicle caravan — via high, rather than sky, way.
Fake event, fake date
“Those are fake letters,” Singh acknowledged when questioned by Keating about a sheath of correspondence — bearing different names and different dates — that Singh (or, he said, his employees) put together to defend themselves in a lawsuit.
The letters apologized for a (fake) event on a (fake) date at the Water’s Edge in Long Island City that allegedly was ruined by faulty air conditioning. The letters also said there would be no charge for the (fake) event. Singh acknowledged he wanted to use the fake letters in a legal fight against a vendor who handled air conditioning work at the facility.
“I can’t remember who started it,” Singh testified, “whether they did or we did” — and then came a beat — and then, “Most likely we started it.”
Although the letters were fake, however, the names of the celebrants were real, he said.
Singh, in fact, described many of them as friends, employees or in one instance the wife of a then-Oyster Bay town commissioner.
He went on to say that he — or someone in his employ — had actually reached out to each to ensure they were OK with having their names used on the fake letters.
They were, Singh said.
“You got no no’s out of this?” Keating asked. “Everybody said yes?”
“There were no no’s,” Singh replied,
In September 2017, Singh walked into his flagship restaurant, HR Singletons, in Bethpage.
He’d already pleaded guilty to bribery and other crimes.
He’d — after months in a Brooklyn detention facility — already decided to cooperate with federal authorities in an investigation against Edward and Linda Mangano and Venditto.
And he’d also agreed to wear a monitoring device, give up his cellphone and not to use computers.
He’d also agreed, Keating pointed out, to “have no involvement whatsoever in restaurant businesses.”
And yet, Keating pressed, “isn’t it true that you went to Singletons . . . and you went inside the location?”
“They knew about it,” Singh replied, referring to the federal authorities with whom he’d made a cooperation agreement to secure his release.
They “found out” about it, Keating shot back.
“I was not aware that I could not go and retrieve my files . . . some very personal files” relating to “my homes and my properties,” Singh explained.
“Were you remanded [back into custody] as a result of that?” Keating pressed.
The prosecution objected.
The judge overruled the objection.
And Singh testified on.
“I was not remanded,” he said. “I was called in and the discussion was done that I could not go to the properties.”
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