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Respect for the solemn duty of a jury of one’s peers

John Venditto leaves federal court in Central Islip

John Venditto leaves federal court in Central Islip on Monday. Credit: James Carbone

Since the beginning 11 weeks ago of the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife, Linda, and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, we have avoided commenting so as not to taint the proceedings in any way.

There is no reason to change that policy even after the jury acquitted Venditto on all charges on Thursday. Out of respect for the process and the complex task facing jurors, we will continue to refrain while their deliberations continue.

Edward Mangano and Venditto were charged with accepting bribes from restaurateur Harendra Singh and, in exchange, ensuring that Singh received two county concessions contracts and more than $20 million in loans guaranteed by Oyster Bay. Linda Mangano was charged with lying to the FBI in connection with a no-show job from Singh that paid her $450,000.

In one sense, the proceedings at the courthouse in Central Islip have been utterly typical. This is what a trial by a jury of one’s peers looks like. When someone’s life is in your hands, you accept that responsibility with all the gravitas it demands. It’s far different from calling balls and strikes from the comfort of home.

This jury — seven women, five men — has been diligently sifting through testimony and evidence, asking for transcripts and video clips as it discharges its duty. As the jurors have labored to come to an agreement on Edward and Linda Mangano, we have seen U.S. District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack nudge them to reach a consensus on all remaining charges. That would be the best outcome for all concerned.