Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who is awaiting sentencing on his federal corruption conviction, has found work at one of Long Island’s most storied venues.
Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius confirmed Friday that Mangano, who was county executive for two terms beginning in 2010, started his new employment earlier this year, in "June or July."
"I thought it was helping him at first; he’s been the best asset I’ve ever had," said Melius, who has for decades maintained cozy relationships with Long Island’s elected officials. "We’re not a title-position type of place. It’s me and him. And he’s like, say, a number two. I’m number one and he’s number two. He does everything. Hopefully he would stay here forever. He is terrific."
Melius, a Long Island real estate developer, said in a phone interview that he offered the job to Mangano, who he described as a friend. Melius declined to disclose Mangano’s salary.
Mangano’s defense attorney Kevin Keating also confirmed Mangano’s job Friday.
"Ed Mangano is an extremely hardworking, knowledgeable and capable man," Keating said. "I am certain Oheka is benefiting greatly from Mr. Mangano’s hire."
Oheka Castle – currently in receivership – has hosted scores of lavish weddings over the years, including that of former Rep. Anthony Weiner and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
It has also served as a clubhouse for Long Island’s political elite, including senators, judges and other members of law enforcement – forging relationships between Melius and the politically powerful that a Newsday investigation found benefited Melius.
Oheka Castle was also the scene of a crime – one of Long Island's most notorious – in 2014, when Melius was shot in the head in the castle’s parking lot. Although the shooting occurred in broad daylight, and surveillance cameras captured two vehicles believed to be involved, it remains unsolved.
Melius brought up the shooting on Friday. "They came up with nothing," he said of the probe into his shooting.
Mangano, 58, of Bethpage, was convicted at his retrial last year of bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in connection with what prosecutors said was a quid pro quo relationship between the county executive and his longtime friend, restaurateur Harendra Singh.
Prosecutors alleged Mangano got several bribes from Singh, including a more than $450,000 no-show job for his wife Linda Mangano, in exchange for Singh receiving help in getting $20 million in indirect loan guarantees from the Town of Oyster Bay. Linda Mangano was also convicted of lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice.
Mangano's sentencing has been put on hold as a judge is set to hear testimony and legal arguments in January from his attorney on a motion seeking to set aside Mangano’s conviction on the allegation that Singh committed perjury.
Mangano faces up to 20 years in prison. If those charges are thrown out, he would only face a maximum of 5 years on the obstruction count. Linda Mangano faces 2 to 3 years under federal sentencing guidelines.
Melius said Mangano, a lawyer at the Uniondale firm Rivkin Radler before he was elected county executive, doesn’t dwell much on his legal troubles. Mangano was disbarred last year, formally prohibiting him from practicing law in New York State.
"He’s absolutely terrific," Melius said. "Never moans or groans about it. Nothing."
Melius and his castle came up briefly in testimony during Mangano’s first trial, which ended in a mistrial in 2018.
Singh, the star witness during both of Mangano’s trials, had testified that on the same day he laundered a $3,600 cash bribe Mangano received from a contractor, they stopped at Oheka Castle.
"We saw Gary Melius and had a drink," Singh testified then.
Melius said Friday he thought Mangano’s arrest and prosecution was an "assault" and "very political" because "I think what he did is nothing."
Melius said he's not concerned that some might be critical of his decision to employ Mangano, a convicted felon.
"I don’t care what they have to say," Melius said. "I love his character. I trust him implicitly. He’s a great guy. So I don’t care what anybody else thinks."