Harendra Singh breaks down in tears during 5th day of testimony
Harendra Singh, the prosecution's star witness in the corruption trial against former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, broke into tears Monday describing the decline of his businesses during his fifth day of testimony.
He was recounting how he was arrested twice in 2015 and how the restaurant empire he had built began to crumble. He said his parents had to take over control of day-to-day operations of his businesses because he was unable to do so.
They closed one at a time anyway.
The judge called for a recess to give Singh a chance to regain his composure. The disgraced restaurateur's testimony has also described numerous occasions in which he said he provided bribes and kickbacks to the former elected officials.
Singh said he provided significant discounts for weddings and other events to Nassau County and Town of Oyster Bay officials. He said he relied on them to ensure his businesses would continue to succeed.
In one instance, Singh testified, former Oyster Bay Parks Commissioner Frank Nocerino allegedly told Singh he'd pay $100 per person to have his daughter's wedding at the Water's Edge in Long Island City. Singh said the cost is usually about $200 or $250 per person. Other officials he said he offered discounts to include Nassau County Republican Chairman Joe Mondello and former acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.
In four prior days of testimony, Singh showed little emotion on the stand. He regained that composure after the recess and returned to describe how FBI agents raided his flagship restaurant, HR Singleton's in Bethpage, in August 2014.
After the raid, Singh said he had a private meeting with Venditto. He testified he was told, "As long as I keep it quiet, there will be no issues with my contracts with the Town of Oyster Bay."
Singh said he paid Venditto and his associates bribes for years. Meanwhile, Singh said, Mangano was growing worried after FBI agents knocked on the front door of his Bethpage home and spoke with his wife, Linda.
Singh said he employed the county executive's wife in a no-show job and that the Manganos urged him to lie about Linda Mangano's role in his company.
"Basically, they wanted me to corroborate everything they told the agents," he said.
Defense attorneys are expected to cross-examine Singh this week. They say he's a liar.