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Harendra Singh, star witness in Mangano trial, can use cellphone while out on bond, judge says

Harendra Singh, right, arrives at federal court in

Harendra Singh, right, arrives at federal court in Central Islip on Wednesday. Credit: James Carbone

Harendra Singh, the key government witness in the corruption case against former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, regained the right to use a cellphone Wednesday after a judge decided not to penalize him for his admitted violation of bond conditions.

Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating, of Garden City, had shown a photograph of Singh with a cellphone in an attempt to undermine Singh’s credibility at the February retrial of Mangano and his wife, Linda, in federal court in Central Islip earlier this year.

The picture was taken the previous September outside Singh’s Laurel Hollow home by an employee of Keating who had been surveilling the former restaurateur.

Singh, who has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in November, admitted in court he had used the phone and violated conditions of his release on bond. But he said he needed to use the phone to stay in touch with his mother, who was in a rehab facility.

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack decided not to penalize Singh, and agreed to allow him to use a cellphone in the future.

Azrack acted after federal prosecutors and a federal pre-trial services officer monitoring Singh agreed that he had followed other conditions of his release since 2016.

The judge also agreed to end the monitoring of Singh through an electronic bracelet after his attorney, Anthony La Pinta , said it was interfering with his client’s ability to do physical therapy for problems with his knees.

Azrack, however, retained the other conditions, including a $5 million bond, and a ban on his starting a business of his own, applying for loans, and traveling outside the Eastern and Southern Districts without permission.

La Pinta said after the hearing that, “I thought that the judge acted reasonably, removing several conditions, recognizing that Mr. Singh has been compliant for three-and-a-half years.”

Keating, however, said in a statement that the judge’s action was, “Disheartening and deeply unsettling. This is a man who has already committed crimes while out on bail,  and committed countless acts of perjury in an effort to obtain leniency."   

Singh was rearrested in December 2015 for fraudulently applying for a loan, after he had initially been let out on bond after his September 2015 arrest. He was released for a second time in 2016 on his current bond after serving eight months in jail.

Singh testified for 13 days in the Manganos' initial trial, which ended in a mistrial, and six days in the Manganos’ second trial.

That second trial ended in March with Edward Mangano being convicted of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.  Linda Mangano was convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and two counts of lying to the FBI.

Edward Mangano was accused of helping Singh get $20 million in indirect loan guarantees from the Town of Oyster Bay in return for bribes, including a $450,000 no-show job for Linda Mangano.

By its verdict, the jury found Edward Mangano did use his influence as a newly minted county executive to sway Oyster Bay officials into backing loans for Singh after an outside lawyer for the town called such a transaction illegal and “a complete sham.”

But the jury also found the government didn’t prove its accusations that Edward Mangano steered two contracts to Singh.

In October of 2016, Singh pleaded guilty to eight felony counts, including several counts of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and honest services wire fraud; several counts of federal program bribery and honest services wire fraud; and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service. He also agreed to cooperate against the Manganos, who were longtime friends.

The Manganos are scheduled to be sentenced in October.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the year Singh was rearrested on a charge that he fraudulently applied for a loan.