FBI arrests prominent LI restaurant owner
A Bethpage-based restaurateur was arrested early Wednesday morning by the FBI and spent much of the day in federal court.
Harendra Singh, 56, is facing 13 federal charges. Prosecutors say that between 2011 and 2013 he bribed a Town of Oyster Bay official to secure a pair of guaranteed loans totalling $20 million.
He was also charged with forging documents to defraud the IRS and FEMA. Prosecutors say he underreported his income during the past six years, bilking the government of more than $17 million.
Singh also allegedly fraudulently received nearly $1 million in federal disaster relief funds by falsifying receipts for work done on his Long Island City restaurant, The Water's Edge, after Superstorm Sandy.
He was also accused of obstructing justice by destroying documents and hiding money from FBI agents.
Singh pleaded not guilty to all the charges during his arraignment in Central Islip. His attorney says the court is using his client as a "political pawn."
"They see this man as the lynchpin for a political corruption case in Nassau County," the attorney said.
Singh is facing 30 years to life in prison if he is convicted of the charges against him. He made his $5 million bail by putting up multiple properties worth more than $6 million. He will be electronically monitored.
A spokesman for the Town of Oyster Bay declined to comment about the case.