Former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s defense attorney Kevin Keating did not deny that his client had a relationship with restauranter Harendra Singh.
In fact, he told the jury that the two were close friends, Newsday reported.
He argued that gifts received by Mangano and his wife, Linda, were due to their friendship and not for political gain.
One example Keating gave was text messages exchanged between Singh and Linda Mangano.
“It would not be the same without you,” she texted Singh, inviting him to Ed Mangano’s 2015 birthday party. “But no gift, I will not let you in the door with a gift.”
Keating’s cross-examination of Singh marked the beginning of the third week of the trial of Mangano, his wife, and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto in Central Islip.
It followed five days of testimony by Singh where he detailed how he gave the three gifts in exchange for contracts and loan guarantees.
Edward Mangano and Venditto are charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and honest services wire fraud. Mangano was additionally charged with extortion and Venditto with securities fraud.
Linda Mangano is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, making false statements to the FBI and obstruction of justice. All three have pleaded not guilty.
According to Newsday, Keating said that Singh often bought gifts for his friends without the expectation of official action. He said that Singh set up a consulting firm the hoping to get county business but never received a contract from Nassau.
Singh said last week that the Manganos’ son Sal received special treatment as the manager of an eatery in Tobay Beach.
But Keating disputed that by showing the jury an email where Singh called for Sal to have his pay deducted for not working in three days, Newsday said.
Singh responded that the texts from Linda Mangano were meant to say he had already done enough for her, Newsday reported. And he also confirmed the closeness of his relationship with the Magnanos, testifying that Mangano was among “his best three friends,” and that he was the first non-family member the Manganos called after the birth of their son in 1996.
Keating also challenged Singh several times on his timing of events, Newsday said.
After questioning from Keating, Singh said he gave discounts to Nassau GOP Chair Joseph Mondello before Mangano took office and did not tell Mangano that he provided hen-acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter with free meals.
Keating also drew attention to Singh’s own lavish lifestyle, Newsday reported.
Singh said he spent over $3 million on his mansion in Laurel Hollow and paid $7 million for the Water’s Edge restaurant in Long Island City. He also bought a Maserati and took trips to India and Hawaii, Newsday reported.
Singh was questioned by Keating about a $1.79 million loan he received from his father, upon which Singh confessed he took without his father’s knowledge, Newsday reported. When Keating asked if he stole the money from his father, Singh said yes.
“You could say that,” he responded, according to Newsday.