The case, prosecutors argued, was like so many others in New York state. A politician had power, and he used that power to enrich himself.
“They traded their office for money, plain and simple,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Tierney said Tuesday, according to Newsday.
The statement was part of the prosecution’s closing arguments as the 10-week trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto crawled toward an ending this week.
Mangano, his wife Linda, and Venditto have been on trial in Central Islip since March. The three are accused of receiving gifts from restaurateur Harendra Singh in exchange for contracts from Nassau County and loan guarantees from Oyster Bay.
Singh testified earlier in the trial that he provided Venditto with gifts — such as free meals at his restaurants, limousine rides, and office space — in exchange for $20 million in town loan guarantees. He also said he showered the Manganos with free meals and other gifts, including a $450,000 no-show job for Linda Mangano.
Tierney spent much of his closing remarks reminding the jury of Singh’s testimony, Newsday reported. He said that the Manganos’ relationship with Singh was not one of friendship, as the defense has argued.
“This is not a friendship … this is a business,” he said, after presenting a bill from Singh’s catering to the Mangano campaign for $57,000 and then a check from the campaign that paid only $15,000, according to Newsday.
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.
Following Tierney’s remarks, defense attorney Kevin Keating argued that Mangano never took action to benefit Singh, citing a secretly recorded conversation between Singh and then-deputy town attorney for Oyster Bay Frederick Mei. According to Newsday, Mei asked Singh if there was anything Mangano did for him.
“Nothing, nothing,” Singh replied.
Venditto’s attorneys, meanwhile, tried to get a mistrial declared for their client last week. A federal judge rejected the request, according to Newsday, but did agree to strike out several questions and answers from the record. The answers came from testimony given last week by independent auditor Donald Hoffman and municipal adviser Christine Crowley regarding Oyster Bay’s loan guarantee for Singh.
“Don’t hold your breath for a mistrial,” U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack told Venditto’s attorneys, according to Newsday. Azrack also rejected Monday a final effort by the defense lawyers to have the charges against their clients dismissed, with Azrack saying there was “more than sufficient evidence” for the case to go to the jury.
Closing statements by attorneys for Venditto and Linda Mangano were made on Wednesday.