A scheme to help a former LI restaurateur illegally gain millions in loan guarantees and government contracts began in the early days of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration, federal prosecutors say in court papers Wednesday, charging that Mangano and former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto were in effect put on a “retainer” by the businessman.
Summing up the government’s argument that the case should go to trial exactly as charged in the indictment, prosecutors say in a 103-page court paper filed in federal court in Central Islip that the scheme began after Mangano took office in January 2010, when the restaurateur went to Mangano and asked for help in getting the loan guarantees from the Town of Oyster Bay.
“Mangano and Venditto engaged in a conspiracy to solicit and receive bribes and kickbacks from [the restaurateur] in exchange for performing official actions, and on an as-needed basis, as opportunities arose, in connection with [the restaurateur’s] businesses in Nassau County and the TOB,” prosecutors wrote.
The paper was filed in response to a number of pretrial motions by attorneys for Mangano, Venditto, and Mangano’s wife, Linda, for their upcoming trial in January in an alleged kickback and corruption case by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Catherine Mirabile, Lara Treinis Gatz, and Raymond Tierney.
The pretrial motions by the Manganos and Venditto were an effort to have their clients’ cases thrown out or have the number of charges reduced.
Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City, said, “We strenuously disagree with the government’s factual assertions . . . and we will address each of them in our reply and in court.”
Linda Mangano’s attorney, John Carman of Garden City, said the government in its court paper is not giving him a chance to adequately defend his client. Carman said prosecutors have given him dozens of pages of notes about her interviews with investigators about her job with Singh, but have not told him which remarks are specifically untrue.
“When the government charges a citizen with making a false statement, one would think that they would tell her what it is. In their motion response, they again steadfastly refuse to do so,” Carman said.
Venditto’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo of Manhattan, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Singh’s attorney, Anthony La Pinta of Hauppauge, declined to comment.
John Marzulli, a spokesman for Eastern District prosecutors, also declined to comment.
Although the restaurateur is not identified, sources have said it is Harendra Singh, who operated a number of food concessions on Town of Oyster Bay property and eventually got a $20 million loan guarantee from the town. In the court papers, the person is often identified as “Co-Conspirator #1.”
After the restaurateur asked the county executive for help, “in turn, Mangano spoke to Venditto about the TOB guaranteeing these loans,” the prosecutors continued. “During these conversations, Mangano assured [the restaurateur that] ‘it will get done.’ ”
Although Mangano and Singh had been friends for 25 years, it was only after Mangano became county executive that Singh began to pay for Mangano family vacations, and other things of value such as an expensive watch, a massage chair and hardwood flooring at the couple’s home, the court paper said.
Further, Mangano “in essence, demanded” that Singh employed Linda Mangano . . . and “set [her] salary,” the prosecutors said. The prosecutors have alleged that Linda Mangano then received more than $400,000 for what was essentially a no-show job.
As part of their corrupt relationship, Mangano exerted his influence to see that Singh got contracts to provide bread and rolls to the Nassau County jail and to provide food service to the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management. Both contracts had initially been awarded to other vendors by lower level county employees “but were changed at the last minute,” the papers said.
Prosecutors said the actions of Mangano and Venditto amounted to “the most egregious form of bribery” of an official — what is known as a “stream of benefits” case. In such instances, the prosecutors wrote: the “corruption is so pervasive that it involves more than a single gift or an isolated official’s act, and often lasts for years.”
In the case of the bread-and-roll contract, it was awarded to the restaurateur “after intervention from, among others, an individual from the Nassau County Executive’s Office (whom Mangano directly supervised),” the prosecutors said. The individual was not named.
The defendants are planning to reply to the government’s arguments in December before U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack rules on all the motions.
Mangano, a Republican, was arrested in October 2016 and accused by federal prosecutors of receiving “bribes and kickbacks” from Singh. Mangano was charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, extortion, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Mangano’s wife, Linda, also was arrested on charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and making false statements involving “work she claimed to have performed” in an alleged no-show job from Singh, according to the indictment and prosecutors. Both Manganos pleaded not guilty.
Venditto, also a Republican, was arrested and charged in the federal indictment with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and false statements. Venditto pleaded not guilty, and resigned in January.
The trial date for all three defendants is set for Jan. 16, 2018.
Federal prosecutors’ court papers
The following assertions are excerpts taken from the motion filed Wednesday by federal prosecutors in support of their case against Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, and Mangano’s wife, Linda:
- “This case also concerns the great lengths these elected officials, and a family member, went to in order to obstruct justice and conceal their corrupt behavior.”
- “The solicitation and receipt of bribes in exchange for official action began immediately after Mangano’s election to Nassau County Executive, at which time officials from the same political party then governed both Nassau County and the TOB governments.”
- “Mangano and/or his family members received, among other things, various hotel and travel expenses, limousine services, meals, a massage chair, a Panerai Luminor watch, and hardwood flooring and installation at the Manganos’ residence.”
- “In an effort to cover up their criminal behavior, all the defendants engaged in obstructive conduct intended to influence, obstruct and impede the underlying grand jury investigation.”