A number of Democrats and Republicans called on Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto to resign on Thursday following their arrests on federal corruption charges.
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who announced last month that he is running for Mangano’s seat as a Democrat next year, said that it would be in the county’s best interest if both Mangano and Venditto stepped down.
Newsday reported that Mangano has no intention of resigning and, unless he is convicted or pleads guilty, would carry on as county executive.
"This is an innocent man trying to go about the work of the county," Mangano's attorney, Kevin Keating, told reporters outside the U.S. DIstrict Courthouse in Central Islip after his arraignment.
Mangano said he was not yet able to comment on specific charges, but would be proven innocent, and called the accusations "ridiculous."
“Given the nature of the charges, it would be in the best interest of the county, if both would resign in order to allow the peoples’ work to be conducted with unquestionable integrity,” Maragos told the Herald. “It’s going to be very difficult for [Mangano] to carry on and conduct county business under the indictments.”
This is a sad day for Nassau County when the county executive and the Town of Oyster Bay supervisor, two of its highest elected officials, are indicted on federal corruption charges,” he added. "Their alleged actions, if proven true, are a betrayal of the public trust and further shakes our trust in government.”
Mangano, 54, and his wife, Linda, and Venditto were arrested on Thursday and charged in a 13-count federal indictment with conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and honest services fraud, according to officials at the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The charges against the three were released during a news conference at Federal Plaza in Central Islip. The charges against Mangano — a Republican from Bethpage who was elected in 2009 when he defeated Democrat Tom Suozzi — stem from his alleged dealings with powerful restaurateur Harenda Singh, who allegedly offered free vacations and other perks in exchange for help with his business dealings. Linda Mangano reportedly held a $450,000 no-show job at one of Singh's restaurants.
Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman, a Democrat who is mulling a run for county executive next year, also called on Mangano and Venditto to resign and said that the charges are “truly a low point for government in Nassau County.”
“Sadly, it will further erode taxpayers’ trust,” Schnirman said. “We know that in the days ahead, there must be a real community-oriented conversation about how we as a county move forward to restore trust and faith in government to protect our residents. Nassau County is in its budget season, and is facing tremendous fiscal challenges, as outlined in the recent Nassau Interim Finance Authority report. The county executive should consider stepping aside to allow proper and professional focus on these financial challenges."
In a statement, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach running for re-election in the 9th Senate District, called the charges “deeply troubling.”
“County Executive Ed Mangano and Supervisor Venditto must resign immediately so we can begin, once again, to attempt to restore the public’s confidence in our local government,” said Kaminsky, adding that he has called for stricter bribery laws and statewide reforms to municipal contracting practices.
Kaminsky’s Republican opponent, Chris McGrath, an attorney from Rockville Centre, was among a number of Republican congressional and State Senate candidates who also called for the immediate resignations of Mangano and Venditto. McGrath called on the County Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, to name a replacement.
"I believe that the individuals who have these allegations pending should immediately step aside," McGrath said in a statement. "The County Legislature should immediately convene and select a replacement of a person who is free of any investigation."
According to Newsday, State Sen. Jack Martins, who is running for Congress in the 3rd District, Sen. Carl Marcellino, Sen. Kemp Hannon, and GOP Senate candidate Elaine Phillips, said the resignations would ensure that the county could continue to provide critical services for its residents.
Nassau Democrats wasted no time responding to the corruption charges on Thursday.
“More than a year ago, I said that Nassau's archaic financial and oversight practices were a recipe for corruption and I proposed comprehensive reforms that the Legislature and County Executive have stonewalled,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “Today's charges and our investigations underscore the importance of passing strict ethics and oversight reforms to protect taxpayers, and I renew my call for immediate action to drain this cesspool of corruption and restore confidence in the integrity of our government.”
Nassau County Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs, meanwhile, called it a sad day for Mangano, Venditto and their families.
“While we are adversaries in politics, I take no comfort or pleasure in what has happened today,” Jacobs said in a statement. “If these allegations are true, they will represent a great widespread betrayal of the voters’ trust. Regardless of the legal outcome, there can no longer be any doubt that ‘business as usual’ in Nassau County politics and government must come to an end. The public’s demand for honest, credible and effective government requires it."
County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Mondello declined to comment. County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ben Strack and Erik Hawkins contributed to this story.