Prosecutor: Mangano, Venditto ‘earned their keep’ for bribes, kickbacks

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Opening statements were delivered Tuesday in the corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, his wife Linda, and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Gatz told the jury moments into her opening statement that the case involved “corruption and greed at the highest level of county and town government.” She accused Mangano and Venditto of "selling their elected offices" to restaurateur Harendra Singh in a quid pro quo arrangement in which Mangano and Venditto provided vendor contracts and $20 million in loan guarantees from the Town of Oyster Bay in exchange for bribes and kickbacks. Gatz says Mangano received lavish gifts, family vacations and a $100,000 per year no-show job for his wife.

Gatz said Mangano “sold himself to maintain the lifestyle he and his wife Linda believed they were entitled to."

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The defense attorneys representing the three defendants called Singh a habitual liar – portraying him as someone who can't be trusted.

Mangano's attorney Kevin Keating painted Singh as a man who even bilked his own father out of thousands of dollars. He said Singh was a longtime Mangano friend with a hidden dark side that many never knew about – a man motivated to lie in order to keep himself out of a jail. Keating reminded the jury that the prosecution's upcoming witness pleaded guilty to crimes in exchange for cooperating with the government.

He called the government's case "a desperate attempt to link that whole Town of Oyster Bay event to Ed Mangano."

Linda Mangano's attorney told the jury that it’s not a crime to have what he called a "low-show job."

Venditto's attorney, Marc Agnifilo, suggested that Singh was bribing a town attorney, not Venditto.

"Anyone who suggests [Venditto] committed a crime has a deal with the government," said Agnifilo.

The prosecution acknowledged that three of its top witnesses did indeed make deals with the government. Singh and former Oyster Bay Town attorney Fred Mei pleaded guilty and will testify for the government in exchange for lighter sentences. Former Deputy Town Supervisor Leonard Genova will testify in exchange for full immunity.

Singh will take the stand Thursday.

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