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OpinionColumnistsLane Filler

Secret plea’s odd surprise about Mangano, Venditto

With both Mangano and Venditto scheduled for trial in March, the more we learn the more we wonder.

Harendra Singh, leaves federal court in Central Islip

Harendra Singh, leaves federal court in Central Islip after a hearing on Oct. 5, 2015. Photo Credit: James Carbone

It’s long been rumored, even accepted really, that Oyster Bay restaurateur Harendra Singh was cooperating with federal authorities in the corruption cases against former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.

But now we know the bombshell news that Singh pleaded guilty to multiple charges involving his dealings with the two men 15 months ago. That Singh made the pleas and is cooperating without having secured a sentencing arrangement is a stunning development. Suddenly, the case against the two former politicians becomes a lot more intriguing.

What Singh actually admitted is pretty much his part in exactly what Venditto and Mangano are charged with, so those details are not surprising. The real shocker is how very well Mangano supposedly fared from Singh’s beneficence — and how very little Venditto seems to have gotten. This, despite the appearances that the alleged quid pro quo with Singh seems to have come from town coffers and not the county.

Singh said he gave Mangano’s wife, Linda Mangano, $450,000 for a no-show job, and gave the Mangano family wood flooring, chairs, travel, meals and a $7,000 watch. Venditto, though, allegedly got only free meals, limo service and discounts on events at Singh’s restaurants.

What Singh got was a very big deal. Oyster Bay was a guarantor on tens of millions of dollars in loans related to the concessions he operated for the town.

In comparison, what business has been disclosed thus far between Singh and Nassau County — providing catered food, some of it in the wake of superstorm Sandy — seems to have been fairly limited.

This is not the only federal corruption case in which Venditto seems to have gotten little or no payday for town operations that allegedly made others an ill-gotten fortune.

In 2016, then-Oyster Bay planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito, who has since died, pleaded guilty to tax evasion in regard to $2 million paid to him by town contractors Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving Inc. and Lizza family members. Last year, Venditto, Ippolito, several Lizza family members and several other Oyster Bay power players were indicted on corruption charges related to real estate dealings and tens of millions of dollars in town paving contracts.

With the Manganos’ and Venditto’s trials scheduled for March, the more we learn, the more we wonder. Why would Venditto have done so much for Singh for so little? Why would the Manganos have gotten so much from Singh for so little?

And what is it we don’t yet know that could make it all make sense?

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