Singh’s political connections color testimony in Mangano-Venditto trial

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Harendra Singh and Gov. Andrew Cuomo Harendra Singh and Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Harendra Singh and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Harendra Singh and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

The federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto continues Monday, with new witnesses and Harendra Singh finally off the stand.

Harendra Singh’s testimony included mentions of not just Mangano and Venditto, but also Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Chuck Schumer and a handful of members of Congress.

The officials are all people who, one way or another, Singh had contact with over the years. Singh crossed paths with some of those names, like Mangano and de Blasio, far more than others, like Cuomo and Schumer, based on his testimony.

Singh painted himself as a political chameleon, a member of the Bethpage Republican club from the mid-90s on but also one of the first backers of progressive Bill de Blasio in his campaign for mayor.  So why did the politicians give him the time of day? According to Singh, it’s simple - in addition to the bribes and kickbacks he says he paid Ed Mangano and John Venditto, he was a significant campaign contributor for many others.

It is widely known that many business leaders donate to the candidates that they believe can help them in some form or fashion. And politicians generally are willing to accept donations from anyone who can pony up the cash.

“The money is green, no matter what source it comes from,” says political analyst Michael Dawidziak. “And yes, there is a tremendous pressure on people running for public office today, to raise funds, because campaigns have gotten so expensive.”

It will be noteworthy to see how the jury handles all of that information – did the defense essentially muddy the waters by bringing in the names of these other elected officials? Or will the jury be able to separate the charges against Mangano, Venditto and Mangano’s wife Linda with these other allegations and stories of influence that Singh brought up?

Singh testified for the better part of three weeks. New witnesses will be on the stand Monday.

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