Attorneys representing former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife, Linda, have filed new court papers alleging that federal prosecutors withheld key evidence during their first trial that may cast doubt on many of the corruption charges against them.
The Manganos are facing a second trial next month on charges that they accepted bribes for political favors and lied to federal investigators, after their trial last year ended in a mistrial. They were originally tried alongside John Venditto, the former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor, who was accused of participating in a scheme that used the town to guarantee loans for restaurateur Harendra Singh.
Venditto was acquitted of all charges, and, according to Ed Mangano’s attorney, jurors were leaning toward acquitting the two of all charges except one involving a food contract at the county jail.
The defense is asking a federal judge to throw the case out again.
“Defense counsel has learned a series of disturbing facts,” Mangano’s attorney Kevin Keating wrote in a Dec. 19 motion to dismiss, “which indicate that this first trial was anything but fair.”
Prosecutors suppressed evidence favorable to Mangano and allowed Singh to perjure himself during his testimony at trial, according to Keating.
Singh testified that for years he gave gifts to Ed Mangano in exchange for political “juice” to help Singh’s struggling businesses.
On the so-called “bread and rolls” jail contract, Keating said that, the prosecution knew of a witness who claimed to have brought the contract to the attention of the Legislature’s presiding officer, which led to a favorable outcome for Singh. Prosecutors had alleged that Mangano was behind the way the contract steered.
Prosecutors knew of the witness, Keating said, and kept her identity from the defense team.
The “actions here are profoundly troubling, and speak to an inherent lack of good faith on the part of prosecutors,” he said, accusing prosecutors of promoting a “false narrative.”
Also, Keating said, a number of lease agreements for the rental of Singh’s restaurant basement for Mangano’s election campaign were forgeries intended to falsely inflate Singh’s income so he had a better chance at getting financing. During the trial, prosecutors used the leases as examples of Singh renting the space to Mangano at a low price as a quid pro quo.
“Once again, the evidence irrefutably shows that the government possessed information which showed that their lead cooperator was lying,” Keating said. “… That prosecutors took advantage of this asymmetry of information in order to promote a false narrative that was damaging to the defendant.”
According to Keating, he was not provided copies of recordings from a 30-day FBI wiretap on Singh’s phones before the first trial. When he finally obtained them, in February 2019, he found that several contained Singh admitting that prosecutors knew about the financial crimes he had committed. Also, according to Keating, he appeared to say that his testimony against Mangano could be false.
Prosecutors wanted Singh to “tell them a story about some politician,” but that in order to do so, he would have to “make sh*t up ... it will be all lies,” Keating said, about the contents of one of the recordings.
Keating alleged that Mangano’s constitutional rights were violated by a variety of things prosecutors did, and that the “cumulative prejudice … has been profound and undeniable.”
Keating said that the only remedy for the prosecutorial misconduct he alleged would be a complete dismissal of the indictment.
Prosecutors should file their reply to Keating’s motion to dismiss by Jan. 4, according to court documents. Jury selection is still set to begin on Jan. 16 for the new trial.