This story was reported by Nicole Fuller, Robert E. Kessler, Bridget Murphy, Emily Ngo and Andrew Smith. It was written by Ngo.
Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto “traded their office for money,” a federal prosecutor said Tuesday in the 10-week-old corruption trial’s closing arguments while Mangano’s defense attorney countered that the government’s star witness “desecrated the oath” by lying repeatedly on the stand.
Mangano and Venditto accepted bribes from restaurateur Harendra Singh and, in exchange, helped Singh to secure two county contracts and more than $20 million in town-guaranteed loans, prosecutors say.
“They traded their office for money, plain and simple,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a nearly four-hour recap of the charges against the men who once served as the highest-ranking elected officials in Nassau and Oyster Bay.
“Harendra Singh probably told 400 lies on the stand,” Kevin Keating of Garden City, who represents Mangano, said in his own closing argument. “That man desecrated the oath. He defiled it over and over again.”
Keating pointed to his client: “And his life is on the line.”
Tierney and Keating offered for jurors echoes of the statements, evidence and testimony they took in during the trial’s first nine weeks.
“This case is about corruption and greed at the highest levels,” Tierney said, his remark sounding much like one delivered by his colleague in opening statements March 14 in the same Central Islip courtroom.
Keating — making his case to jurors after Tierney finished — discussed a bread-and-rolls contract that Singh won in 2012, saying the deal with the previous vendor could have been canceled with just 30 days’ notice but never was.
“If he bribed Ed Mangano, why wasn’t it canceled?” Keating asked. “Singh gets nothing. Nothing.”
His statement recalled a conversation secretly recorded in 2015 on an FBI body wire and played as evidence for jurors on March 29.
“People are going to assume that if you gave him money like that he did something for you,” then-deputy town attorney Frederick Mei is heard telling Singh of Mangano. “Was there anything he did for you?”
“Nothing, nothing,” Singh responds.
Keating told the jury Tuesday: “Remember the tape: I got nothing from Ed Mangano. I lost money on Ed Mangano.”
Keating is expected to wrap up his closing argument Wednesday and defense attorneys for Venditto and Mangano’s wife, Linda, also are set to make their closing cases to the jury.
Edward Mangano, 56, of Bethpage, and Venditto, 68, of North Massapequa, face charges that include conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and honest-services wire fraud, extortion for Mangano and securities fraud for Venditto.
Linda Mangano, 54, of Bethpage, is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.
The three have pleaded not guilty.
On Tuesday, Tierney listed the bribes that prosecutors say Mangano took from Singh, including a no-show job for his wife paying $450,000, a $3,600 massage chair, a $3,400 office chair, numerous free meals, and family vacations, on which Singh spent $47,000 while the Manganos spent $8,800.
Tierney said Venditto accepted from Singh $11,400 in limousine services for himself, his family and his friends, free use of Singh’s conference room, free meals for himself and his family, and free or discounted hosting of political events at Singh’s restaurants. Tierney said Singh also gave Venditto $30,000 annually for the supervisor’s golf event.
The prosecutor said Mangano and Venditto were entrenched in a “this-for-that” relationship with Singh.
He presented a bill for food and catering from Singh’s company to Mangano’s campaign for $57,000 and then a check showing the campaign ultimately paid $15,000.
“This for that,” Tierney said. “This is not a friendship. . . . This is a business.”
He said testimony and a “mountain of email” showed that a contract to serve meals to county emergency workers in the wake of superstorm Sandy in 2012 was steered by Mangano to Singh.
“This for that,” Tierney said. “He’s getting benefits. Singh is always looking to take care of Ed Mangano.”
The prosecutor then referenced the crucial April 28, 2010 meeting at Venditto’s campaign headquarters in North Massapequa that was attended, according to testimony by several witnesses, by Mangano, Venditto, other county and town officials and outside counsel to Oyster Bay.
Soon after the gathering, Singh would receive a $1.5 million line of credit tied to Oyster Bay’s creditworthiness, helped by Rivkin Radler LLP attorneys who had been at the meeting.
It was Singh’s first in a series of town-guaranteed loans.
The “crime was complete, the conspiracy has been formed,” Tierney said.
When he spoke later Tuesday, Keating distanced Mangano from any action taken by the Town of Oyster Bay, calling it “a separate government” from the one Mangano ran and stressing how Oyster Bay “adored Harendra Singh.”
Keating, too, cited the April 28, 2010 meeting, pointing to testimony by Singh that Mangano had said nothing at the gathering and that Venditto ran the meeting.
The notion that Mangano was “pushing John Venditto around” after only four months as Nassau County’s executive is a “joke,” Keating said.
Though Singh had testified that Mangano was silent, Jonathan Sinnreich, who was outside counsel to Oyster Bay, said on the stand that Mangano spoke at the meeting and advocated for finding a solution for Singh.
Keating said Singh hired Linda Mangano upon launching a construction company that he registered as a county vendor on April 6, 2010.
Linda Mangano’s first Singh check was dated April 9, 2010.
Keating referenced Singh’s testimony that the construction company got zero contracts from Nassau County.
But earlier Tuesday, Tierney noted that on April 13, 2010 — four days after Linda Mangano got a paycheck for what the prosecutor said was her “phony-baloney, no-show job” — Edward Mangano and William Savino of Rivkin Radler spoke by phone for 11 to 12 minutes.
Mangano and Singh spoke before the county executive called his former law colleague, Tierney said the evidence showed.
“These things matter,” Tierney said, referring to the sequencing. “It corroborates, it supports, what Harendra Singh said.”