Newly unsealed court records show that restaurateur Harendra Singh secretly pleaded guilty in October 2016 to bribing former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.
In the documents, Singh said he gave gifts to Mangano and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, and tried to bribe a New York City official who is not named but has been identified in news reports as Mayor Bill de Blasio. In total, Singh pleaded guilty to eight federal charges, including bribery and fraud.
“Between January of 2010 and February 2015, I agreed with [Mangano, Venditto] and others, including other officials in both Nassau County government and the Town of Oyster Bay … to offer and give them bribes and kickbacks in exchange for them taking official action in my favor,” he said, according to the court document.
Singh paid for vacations taken by the Mangano family and provided Mangano’s wife, Linda, with a no-show job from 2010 through 2014 for which she was paid $450,000, according to the document.
“I hired Linda at the request of Ed Mangano and my purpose in hiring her was to influence Ed,” Singh testified.
Among the gifts given to Mangano were a massage chair, an office chair and a $7,000 watch for one of Mangano’s sons. Singh paid for wood flooring in the Manganos’ master bedroom and the family was allowed to eat and drink free at Singh’s restaurants.
Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating, dismissed Singh’s claims as fiction.
“The release of Singh’s plea confirms what we all knew — a man who faces decades in prison for his own vast and hidden criminality struck a cooperation deal, which stunningly included his release on bail, in a desperate effort to save himself,” he said in a statement to Newsday.
Singh said he gave Venditto similar treatment. His family ate free at Singh’s restaurants and received “significantly” discounted rates for events at Singh’s restaurants or dining halls, according to the court documents. He also provided Venditto with free use of a conference room and free limousine service.
Additional Oyster Bay officials — although none were named — received the same benefits as Venditto, according to the documents.
Singh said he did this to receive indirect loan guarantees from the town, collectively worth more than $20 million.
De Blasio was never mentioned by name, but the context of Singh’s comments matches the “elected New York City official” with the mayor.
Singh said between 2010 and 2015 he raised tens of thousands of dollars for the elected official in order to obtain “official action from a New York City agency that would benefit myself and the restaurants I owned.”
Specifically, he sought a favorable lease renewal for his restaurant Water’s Edge, located on the shore of the East River in Long Island City.
According to The New York Times, the relationship between Singh and de Blasio was investigated by the FBI and the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York over an 18-month period. While no charges were brought against the mayor, prosecutors were critical of his fundraising methods.
When asked about Singh’s comments, de Blasio said he was unfamiliar with the investigation.
“I don’t know anything about that specifically. I only heard about Nassau,” he said.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office said the allegations were not true.
Singh also outlined the fraud he committed to further his bribery schemes. He confessed to committing bank fraud, filing false instruments with banks and municipalities, tampering with public records, offering false instruments for filing, committing insurance and mortgage fraud, filing bad checks, making false statements and scheming with others to defraud.
Singh confessed to underreporting his restaurants’ gross income from 2009 to 2014 and also paid some of his employees off the books, meaning he did not report the complete amount of salaries to the Internal Revenue Service.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong and illegal and I’m profoundly sorry for that,” he said.
Singh has not yet been sentenced. Both Mangano and Venditto have denied wrongdoing. Their trial begins on March 12.