State assemblyman, limo owners take stand in Mangano-Venditto trial

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Among the witnesses to testify Monday was state Assemblyman Michael Montesano, a Glen Head Republican. Among the witnesses to testify Monday was state Assemblyman Michael Montesano, a Glen Head Republican.
WOODBURY -

Four witnesses took the stand Monday in the federal corruption trial against former Nassau Executive Ed Mangano and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto -- after the government's star witness spent nearly two weeks on the stand detailing his relationships with the two.

Harendra Singh wrapped up nearly two weeks of testimony last Thursday, testifying against Venditto, Mangano and his wife Linda.

Among the witnesses to testify Monday was state Assemblyman Michael Montesano, a Glen Head Republican.

Montesano said he was told by the Town of Oyster Bay's Republican leadership after his election in 2010 to hire Linda Mangano to an $85,000 a year job working in his office. That salary represented the entire allotment for the assemblyman's office.

Typically, he says, an assemblyman would hire a chief of staff and fill several other part-time positions with the money.

Montesano said he called the Manganos twice before getting in touch with Ed Mangano, who finally informed him his wife was not interested in the position. Montesano said he made clear that he was not even offering the position. He said he felt it would look bad to hire the sitting county executive's wife -- and he needed a chief of staff and to fill the other normal positions.

Earlier in the trial, Singh testified that he paid Linda Mangano for another job that she did not have to show up for.

Also to take the stand were two brothers who own a limousine company that Singh often used, Peter and Joe Palumbo, of Camelot Limo in Farmingdale. They testified that Singh paid for thousands of dollars in rides for Venditto, his son Michael Venditto -- himself a former state senator -- and other relatives and friends.

Next to take the stand was Melissa Evwiehor, who testified that as a Singh company employee, she had information about her boss's illegal activity. She said that Linda Mangano's alleged no-show job made her the highest paid employee on Singh's payroll.

She said she helped falsify payroll documents for Singh, bilking the federal government out of millions of dollars in the process. She also said prosecutors had granted her immunity in exchange for her testimony.

Defense lawyers say they have proven that Singh lied about bribing Mangano and Venditto to reduce his own prison sentence.

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