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Long IslandNassau

Power on trial: Two witnesses, two similar stories

Former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto,

Former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, arrives at the federal courthouse in Central Islip on Thursday, May 10, 2018. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Bookend prosecution testimony

Anthony Gulino, a Ridge contractor and former owner of Residential Fence Corp. and Lasar Industries, sounded a lot like former restaurateur Harendra Singh during testimony Thursday in the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and Mangano’s wife, Linda.

Gulino, like Singh, a former restaurateur, said he had a cooperation agreement with prosecutors in return for his testimony.

Like Singh, Gulino testified that he gave gifts to Oyster Bay town officials, and to Edward Mangano.

He, like Singh, told jurors that he gave — or tried to give — some of those gifts in cash.

Also like Singh, Gulino said he expected something from municipal officials in return for those gifts.

And he, like Singh, also pleaded guilty to a federal crime. In Gulino’s case, it was income tax evasion.

At one point, Gulino testified that he was approached by Edward Mangano during a Republican fundraiser and asked about doing repair work on a railing at Mangano’s Bethpage home.

“I said, ‘No problem,’ ” testified Gulino, who was on the stand for about three hours.

Singh also testified repeatedly that he’d given a similar response to requests he said he received from officials in Oyster Bay and Nassau.

County state of affairs

More than once, Gulino testified that he first met Mangano when Mangano was a state assemblyman. Except Mangano never served in the Assembly; he was a Nassau County legislator before becoming county executive.

But Rob Walker, another Oyster Bay political figure Gulino said he befriended early on in Walker’s political career, did.

“He was young and up-and-coming and a mover and a shaker,” Gulino told jurors, explaining why he decided to befriend Walker.

Walker handled Mangano’s county executive campaign.

At one point, Gulino testified, Walker “asked me to support Edward Mangano in his run for county executive.”

“What did you think his chances were?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond A. Tierney asked.

“Very slim,” Gulino replied. “ . . . I was hoping that Ed would have a chance to get in.”

“Why was that?” Tierney asked.

“Ultimately, work,” Gulino said, referring Mangano’s campaign platform, which included improving parks and roadways.

After he won, Mangano named Walker as his chief deputy county executive.

Picture perfect

During Gulino’s testimony, as Tierney asked questions about Walker, a photograph of Mangano’s former deputy county executive — who is fighting charges in a separate federal criminal case — was projected on the courtroom’s large screen.

It stayed there for what seemed a long time — to the point where Walker’s attorney, Brian Griffin, who was sitting in the spectator section of the courtroom, made reference to it later.

As Gulino’s testimony went on, he also was asked about Joseph Mondello, Nassau’s Republican Party chairman.

Mondello’s photograph appeared on the screen.

But it didn’t stay there long.

As Tierney, on redirect, moved on to other topics, the judge asked, “Can we take that down?”

Don’t fence me in

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority stopped a contract for Gulino’s firm from going through — because the state control board determined the county couldn’t afford to spend $11 million on improvements in Eisenhower Park.

Nassau then decided to have Nassau workers do the work.

But Gulino’s firm still made money, he testified.

“We did the fence component of that contract,” Gulino said.

For which, he testified, the county paid the firm $5 million.

No rest

As it turns out, the prosecution did not rest Thursday, as some court observers had expected.

Instead, jurors heard testimony from a former contractor who testified he gave cash to Edward Mangano. They also heard from an FBI forensic accountant, who analyzed credit card, bank and other records to link payments from Singh to trips and gifts to Mangano and limousine rides for Venditto and his family.

By late afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack had dismissed the jury, earlier than usual for the day.

Jurors also have a day off on Friday.

But lawyers will be in court to discuss the judge’s potential charge to the jury.

When court resumes on Monday, the prosecution may, or may not, be ready to end its case.

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