Oyster Bay loan guarantees remain focus of Mangano-Venditto trial

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A second managing partner at the law firm Rivkin Radler took the stand Thursday morning in the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, his wife Linda and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto.

On Wednesday, William Savino – a former partner at the law firm and Ed Mangano’s former boss – was questioned about Rivkin Radler’s role in helping the Town of Oyster Bay reach a decision on whether or not it could guarantee the personal loans of restaurateur Harendra Singh – the prosecution’s star witness.

VIDEO: Newsday's Nicole Fuller on Cornachio's testimony

Savino struggled to recall how his law firm helped in the effort. He also said several times that he did not have a recollection of specific events.

Bill Cornachio, Savino’s former colleague, offered a bit more detail Thursday into a April 28, 2010 meeting that he said he and Savino attended at Mangano’s campaign headquarters. Cornachio described the meeting place as a “non-descript” storefront in North Massapequa.

The partners at the powerful Nassau law firm say they were brought in to the process to see if their client, the Town of Oyster Bay, could legally provide a guarantee on a $1.5 million loan requested by Harendra Singh. Cornachio testified that the meeting was also attended by Mangano, Venditto, Singh and others. Cornachio said he told the group that according to state law, the town could not guarantee a personal loan. He said he was then given a new assignment: Find another way.

"It was clear when we left the meeting that everyone wanted us to find a solution," said Cornachio.

Cornachio said he ultimately found a way to demonstrate to the lender that Singh had the town's backing. He described it as a "alternative arrangement" – not technically a guarantee, but a document that showed the bank that it would get paid even if Singh defaulted on the loan.

The legality of the loan is not at issue in this trial, however. The jury will be determining whether the loan was payback for kickbacks and bribes that Singh says he provided the Nassau officials.

Oyster Bay ultimately backed a total of $20 million of loans to Singh. When Singh was arrested, the town's credit rating plummeted to junk bond status.

A pair of limo drivers also testified Thursday that while they received generous tips from Venditto and his family after rides, Harendra Singh's account paid the bills. The defense has argued that Venditto paid in cash.

The trial resumes on Monday.

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