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GOP and Dems clash on alleged plot to indict Edward Mangano

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is shown in

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is shown in Mineola on Thursday, March 23, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A newly unsealed motion by the defense attorney for Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano alleges his indictment on corruption charges was possibly part of a complicated plot involving former President Bill Clinton to tip the state Senate into Democratic hands.

Several of the key Democrats allegedly involved in the scheme denied the assertion.

Mangano, his wife Linda, and then-Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto were charged in October of 2016 in federal court in Central Islip. Mangano and Venditto face charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud and obstruction of justice. Linda Mangano was charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements.

The three have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A lengthy motion to have the case thrown out on various grounds was filed in August by Edward Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating, of Garden City, with a small portion filed under seal.

The motion was joined by attorneys for Linda Mangano and Venditto, who agreed that the Senate-tipping plot should be investigated to determine whether the case should be tossed because of a politically motivated selective prosecution.

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack ordered the entire motion unsealed last week.

The motion contains an affidavit by Town of Oyster Bay Republican Councilman Joseph Muscarella where he states that following the November, 2016 election, he and his brother, Thomas Muscarella, met at a Mineola restaurant with former Nassau Democratic Party official and now State Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald, to congratulate him on being elected to a judgeship.

In the affidavit, Joseph Muscarella, states that McDonald told him “of his awareness” that Nassau Democratic leader Jay Jacobs had approached Bill Clinton shortly before the 2016 election and told the former president the indictment of Venditto and the Manganos “had to be done and he needed it now.”

Muscarella also stated in the affidavit that McDonald told him he understood Jacob’s goal was to generate negative publicity from an indictment shortly before the 2016 election that would help defeat John Venditto’s son, Michael, who was running for the state Senate on the Republican line, and help the Democrats gain Senate control in Albany.

Muscarella also stated the justice told him he was glad he was elected to a judgeship because he was “offended” by the process and was no longer involved in “political craziness.”

The indictment was filed, and Michael Venditto narrowly lost to his Democratic opponent, but the Democrats did not pick up enough Senate seats statewide to take control of the Senate.

Muscarella’s affidavit does not explain how McDonald knew about Jacobs’ and Clinton’s supposed conversation, or how Clinton would have then gotten the Justice Department to indict the Manganos and the Venditto before the election

Joseph Muscarella declined to comment Monday. Thomas Muscarella could not immediately be reached.

Jay Jacobs in a telephone call Monday, said he had recently told federal investigators that Muscarella’s account is untrue and he had never asked Bill Clinton to have Venditto and Mangano indicted. Jacobs said that the conversation could not have occurred because McDonald was elected to a judgeship in 2015, a year before the 2016 election.

Did Muscarella use “a séance or a Ouija board?” Jacobs asked.

McDonald’s attorney, Marc Gann, said McDonald and Muscarella were personal friends, but “I don’t believe they had a political conversation about the election.”

Sources familiar with the case said Judge McDonald also told federal investigators that he had not had a conversation such as Muscarella claimed. A spokesman for President Clinton could not immediately be reached.

In a joint statement Monday, Mangano’s attorney, Keating, and the other defense lawyers, said: “This information came to the attention of the defense team, and based upon the nature of these serious allegations, we felt it appropriate to raise this issue with the court under seal.”

“These allegations are just part of our lengthy motions seeking dismissal and other forms of relief. All other statements concerning this matter will be made in court.”

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