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Manganos innocent or guilty? Questions linger after mistrial

An illustration depicts Judge Joan Azrack declaring a

An illustration depicts Judge Joan Azrack declaring a mistrial in Mangano trial on May 31. Credit: Aggie Kenny

The process of delivering justice can be cumbersome. It often takes time. But it demands the respect of the citizens it serves.

We mention this because of the lingering, and perhaps growing, dissatisfaction with the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda. As the arbiter of what’s right and wrong, the process provided no resolution last week when U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack declared a mistrial.

Questions abound. Foreman Marc Tambassopoulos said after the trial he couldn’t continue to serve because some jurors wouldn’t change their minds; his note to that effect prompted Azrack’s action. He said the panel was leaning toward acquitting both defendants but was “more split” on Edward Mangano. But four other jurors told Newsday they were making progress on both Manganos and that a vote Thursday morning was 11-1 for convicting the former county executive on at least one charge. Was the foreman the one who would not change his mind? Did Azrack act too quickly, without polling jurors individually?

Prosecutors are determined to bring a second trial. They have interviewed jurors, which might help sharpen or narrow their case. New witnesses might be called. The defense, too, is better prepared. Co-defendant John Venditto, the former Oyster Bay Town supervisor who was acquitted earlier, faces a pending state corruption case on a different matter; we’ll know soon which trial will take place first.

Both trials will continue to shine a light on bad governance in Nassau and Oyster Bay. Another federal trial could provide clarity to dispel the current unease. But each of us must have faith in the process. Because the alternative is far worse. — The editorial board

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