Jury seated as Mangano, Venditto corruption trial gets underway
The jury tasked with hearing the corruption case of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto has now been seated.
Mangano, along with his wife Linda, and Venditto all watched for hours as the juror selection process played out Monday at the federal courthouse in Central Islip. The trio is accused of accepting bribes and kickbacks from restaurateur Harendra Singh in exchange for lucrative vendor contracts and a $20 million loan guarantee from the town of Oyster Bay.
The courtroom was packed with possible jurors, prompting Judge Joan Azrack to say she'd never seen the room as full. She thanked the potential jurors for playing a part in what she admitted is "somewhat of a tedious task."
The possible jurors were each asked four questions by the judge: How do you like to spend your spare time? What exactly do you do at work? Which TV shows do you like to watch? Name two public figures you admire and why?
The group of more than 100 was eventually whittled down to 12 jurors and six alternates, with the government, the defense, and the judge all having a say on who will decide the fate of three defendants.
Many of the possible jurors said they most admire Democratic politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, or former President Obama. Mangano and Venditto are Republicans, but Kevin Keating, Mangano's attorney, says politics did not come into play in the selection process.
"We want the jurors to look at this facts of this case objectively," Keating says. "If we do that, we think we're going to be fine."
The courthouse will be closed Tuesday due to the impending nor'easter. Opening statements are now set to begin Wednesday.