Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz asked Frederick Mei, the former Oyster Bay deputy town attorney, if he was familiar with the expression “the Oyster Bay way.”
“To me, it’s a phrase used to discuss the pay-to-play nature of the town,” Mei testified in federal court in Central Islip on Monday, according to Newsday.
The exchange was part of the ongoing trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.
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.
Mangano’s wife, Linda, is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, making false statements to the FBI and obstruction of justice. All three have pleaded not guilty.
As in the week before, much of the trial’s focus over the last few days focused on the relationship between Venditto and restaurateur Harendra Singh. Singh previously testified that he had given limousine rides and free meals to Venditto in exchange for town-guaranteed loans.
According to Newsday, Mei testified that he took bribes from Singh and others, and that Singh provided free meals to other town officials. Among the others who Mei said received benefits from Singh, such as free fishing trips and reduced wedding receptions, were town board member Anthony Macagnone and Nassau Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello.
He also said that anyone who wanted a town position had to be a registered Republican and go to party fundraisers, according to Newsday.
Mei said that he did not have the power to secure the loans for Singh, and that those marching orders came directly from Venditto, according to Newsday. Mei also testified on Tuesday that he had lied to the FBI about accepting bribes from Singh.
Efforts to secure the loan did have a tie to Mangano. His former employer, the law firm Rivkin Radler, figured out a way to guarantee a loan for Singh despite provisions of the New York State Constitution. Two of the firm’s partners, William Cornachio and William Savino, testified last week that they were pushed by Mangano and others to complete the deal, Newsday reported.
Savino’s answers were often opaque, Newsday said, and he often began his response with clarifications. But Cornachio was straightforward and made it clear that the loan guarantee was illegal.
Also testifying last week was David Salony, a former executive chef with Singh’s restaurants. According to Newsday, he said Mangano, Venditto and other officials received free meals and special off-menu foods. He also testified that he never saw Linda Mangano and never knew she worked there.
Singh had previously testified that he paid Linda Mangano $450,000 for a no-show job, while Mangano’s attorney claimed she had come in and done work.