Explosive recordings cap big week for defense in Mangano-Venditto trial

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Former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his defense attorney, Kevin Keating, confidently walked out of the federal courthouse Thursday. Former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his defense attorney, Kevin Keating, confidently walked out of the federal courthouse Thursday.

Revelations from two explosive audio recordings closed out a big week for the defense in the Mangano-Venditto corruption trial.

Former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his defense attorney, Kevin Keating, confidently walked out of the federal courthouse Thursday. The trial wrapped for the week, with the jury listening to a pair of audio recordings.  The first was of a 2015 conversation between the prosecution's star witness, Harendra Singh, and former Oyster Bay Deputy Town Attorney Fred Mei, who agreed to wear a wire and allowed the feds to listen in.  In one exchange, the two appear to talk about what benefits, if any, Singh received from Mangano, the sitting Nassau executive at the time.

Fred Mei on wiretaps asks Singh: Was there anything [Mangano] did for you?
Singh: Nothing. Nothing.
Mei: So there you go.
Singh: The only thing [inaudible] Sandy we got the contract to deliver food and that came only through the state, not Ed.

A second audio recording featured a wiretapped phone conversation between Singh and Roger Paganuzzi, a friend. Singh discusses apparently talking about possibly cooperating with the feds, who were on to his bank and tax fraud schemes. 

"They want me to... tell them a story about some politician,” Singh can be heard saying. “I don't have any story about any politician. ...I wish I did, I mean, I could make [expletive] up, but it will be all lies.”

“We had a good day, and there will be more good days to follow,” Keating said Thursday.

Even before the transcripts and the audio, Keating worked to show the once-friendly relationship Singh enjoyed with the Manganos. A 2013 text message from Linda Mangano to Singh said, "Just wanted to tell you guys how much I love u all. Thank you so much for everything. Your friendship is the most important thing to me and Ed...love u forever." Keating asked Singh why Linda Mangano would send him a text like that. Singh replied it was just a thank you for the bribes and kickbacks. Ed and Linda Mangano choked back tears in the courtroom.

But during another portion of the wiretapped phone call, Singh appears to characterize his relationship with the Manganos in a far different way. The friend asks, "You're going to stand by your guns like these people have been my friends since we're kids." Singh replies, "Best of friends that's the fact."

Singh testified that he trusted Mei with secrets but didn't tell him everything. He said he was trying to protect himself and the Manganos at the time of the recordings. 

The trial resumes Monday. Singh will be on the stand once again. 

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