Manganos found guilty on multiple corruption charges

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Former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife, Linda, were found guilty on a number of charges Friday morning following a second trial on federal charges that they abused their positions for personal benefit.

Ed Mangano was found guilty of bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice; Linda was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators.

The Manganos were first arrested in October 2016, and went to trial last year. Their co-defendant in 2018, former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, was acquitted of all charges, while jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the Manganos.

The jury deliberated on the charges for six days before reaching its decision, following a five-week retrial at the federal court building in Central Islip.

The U.S. government told jurors that Ed Mangano accepted bribes from his former friend, restaurateur Harendra Singh, in exchange for political favors and that Linda Mangano lied to investigators about a no-show job she had with Singh. Both were tried last year, in a case that ended in a hung jury, alongside Venditto, who was acquitted of charges that he used the town to guarantee loans for Singh.

U.S. attorneys alleged that Mangano had pressured Oyster Bay officials to guarantee the loans, in order to get from Singh what he wanted.

The defense team, however, characterized Singh as a liar who tried, but failed, to influence Ed Mangano with gifts in an effort to build up his struggling restaurant empire. Singh, the defense attorneys added, only testified against the couple to gain leniency for his own crimes; he pleaded guilty in 2016 to eight charges, including federal program bribery and obstructing and impeding the due administration of internal revenue laws.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz said the timing of gifts provided to the Manganos by Singh pointed to corruption. Treinis Gatz said Singh never provided the Manganos with gifts before Ed Mangano became county executive in 2010, despite being friends with them for more than 20 years. “Only after Ed Mangano had become Nassau County executive . . . did Mr. Singh bestow anything of value,” she said. “Dates matter. Timing is significant.”

Ed Mangano’s defense attorney, Kevin Keating, did not deny that Singh provided gifts to the Manganos, but said the restaurateur got little to nothing in return for them. The only county contract Singh received was an emergency one to provide food for government workers after Superstorm Sandy.

Treinis Gatz, though, said a county-approved caterer was already approved to do that job and that was the week Singh bought the Manganos’ son a $7,300 watch. She also said Ed Mangano steered a contract to Singh to provide bread and rolls to county jail inmates from a low bidder, who had been doing the work for 10 years.

Keating disputed that the bread and rolls contract was steered by Mangano, saying the late Peter Schmitt, the former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, wanted to ensure contracts went to local vendors like Singh. Singh, though, later backed out of the contract, as his bakery could not handle the work required.

Keating also called it “preposterous” that Mangano used his power to convince Oyster Bay officials to back Singh on $20 million in loans, saying he would not have the clout to do so as a newly minted county executive in 2010. He also said former town officials were already “doing backflips” for Singh, who ran concession stands on Oyster Bay property, by extending those contracts.

Linda Mangano was questioned three times about a no-show job she had with Singh. John Carman, Linda Mangano’s lawyer, criticized federal investigators for being careless when interviewing her about the position by not recording or taping any of the three discussions.

“There is no word-for-word account of what Linda said in any of the three meetings,” he said, criticizing the “scribbled notes” of FBI Special Agent Laura Spence that prosecutors used to indict his client. “They went low-tech on her. Dare I say, they went no-tech.”

Elected officials released statements reacting to the convictions. "Today is a sad reminder that for too long, Nassau County’s taxpayers paid a high price for a government that did not work for them," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat and Mangano's successor. "Our residents have footed the bill for a culture of corruption that has been allowed to permeate throughout our County government, enriching the few while betraying the many."

“Today’s verdict is a sad reminder that for too long elected officials have used their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of the public they were meant to serve," State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach and former federal prosecutor, said. “This should also be a reminder that federal prosecutors cannot be expected to bring all of the necessary corruption cases in New York, and that state prosecutors need to be given the tools to help police the political landscape."

— Erik Hawkins contributed to this story

This story will be updated.