Closing arguments begin in Long Island corruption retrial

Edward P. Mangano (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano broke the public’s trust by accepting bribes from a family friend and businessman to benefit he and his wife and then tried to cover it up by lying to authorities, federal prosecutors argued at the federal corruption retrial of the former GOP official and his wife.

“Ladies and gentlemen, guilty people lie. Guilty people lie to cover up their crimes. Ed Mangano and Linda Mangano were committed to covering up their crimes,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile.

The couple’s first trial ended in a mistrial in May when a jury in Central Islip failed to reach a verdict after nine days of deliberations.

Mangano is accused of helping Long Island businessman Harendra Singh obtain guaranteed loans in exchange for lavish gifts, including a $7,000 watch for Mangano’s son, a $3,600 massage chair and a $100,000-a-year, no-show job for his wife at one of Singh’s restaurants.

“For Ed Mangano, public service was self-service. From the moment he took office, he cashed in the power to benefit himself and his wife,” said Mirabile, adding that Mangano and Singh were “tied by corruption, power and greed.”

The Manganos said they had a two-decade personal friendship with Singh, long before Mangano was elected, and that any gifts or favors between the families had nothing to do with his office.

Defense attorney Kevin Keating argued Monday that the couple didn’t even want gifts by pointing to text messages Linda Mangano exchanged with Singh while inviting him to celebrate her husband’s birthday.

“No gift. Nothing please. Just your friendship. Love you,” she texted.

The defense has argued that Mangano handled millions of dollars in contracts while serving as Nassau County executive, and that Singh only benefited from one contract worth $230,000 to feed first responders after Superstorm Sandy. They portrayed Singh as a liar who would do anything to avoid a long prison sentence.

“He’s a sociopath. Unfazed,” Keating said of Singh.

As part of his own criminal case, Singh pleaded guilty to paying bribes to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in the form of campaign contributions, in an attempt to resolve a dispute with the city over a restaurant lease there.

The Democratic mayor was not prosecuted. He denied taking any bribes and suggested Singh pleaded guilty only because he was desperate to get leniency for other corrupt acts.

Former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto was acquitted in the case last year after pleading not guilty to charges including bribery and wire fraud. He had been the town’s supervisor for two decades until his resignation in January 2017.

Closing arguments are to continue Tuesday.

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