Prosecutor: Don’t let defense ‘hijack the facts’ in Mangano-Venditto trial

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CENTRAL ISLIP -

All eyes will now turn to the jury in the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, his wife Linda and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.

Marc Agnifilo, the defense attorney for Venditto, completed his closing statements that he started on Wednesday by pointing to his client and claiming his innocence. He also said the town of Oyster Bay did nothing wrong and is in fine shape.

"Don't let the criminal process circumvent the political process,” said Agnifilo. “The Town of Oyster Bay is fine. The Town of Oyster Bay is still here."

The prosecution argued for nine weeks that restaurateur Harendra Singh used bribes and kickbacks to secure favors from former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Venditto.

Oyster Bay ultimately guaranteed millions of dollars in loans for Singh.

Agnifilo argued that former Deputy Town Attorney Fred Mei worked with Singh to make sure the town indirectly backed those loans. He said Venditto was not aware of the loans at the time.

In her rebuttal, U.S. Attorney Catherine M. Mirabile said that the defense had hijacked the facts. Mirabile instructed the jury to not let that happen.

In her final opportunity to address the jury, Mirabile repeatedly attacked the character of the three defendants. She called Ed Mangano and Venditto “bribe-takers,” “manipulators” and “professional schemers” guilty of stunning acts of corruption.

“In the Town of Oyster Bay, they were all on the same page. They were all taking bribes, and John Venditto was their leader," said Mirabile.

The government also pushed back against the defense's characterization of Singh, as a liar and a sociopath. Mirabile displayed multiple pictures of Singh with Mangano and Venditto while telling the jury, “He's not our guy. He's their guy. There are no pictures of him with the prosecution team. There are no pictures of him with the FBI."

She added, “He's not a sociopath when they're taking things from him. He's not a sociopath when they extend his concession contract 50 years."

Mirabile also pointed out that when Oyster Bay's indirect loan guarantees became public, the town's credit rating plummeted to junk bond status, ultimately leaving the taxpayers on the hook.

Jury deliberations could begin Friday.

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