Restaurateur Harendra Singh previously testified that he provided Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto with free meals and other gifts in exchange for loan guarantees from the town. On Tuesday, a Hauppauge lender told the court he would not have given Singh the loan without the town’s backing.
“We were comfortable knowing we were going to be paid by the Town of Oyster Bay if this blew up,” said Thomas Gilmartin, the former executive vice president and chief lending officer of Madison National Bank, according to Newsday.
The testimony was the latest in the trial of Venditto, former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Mangano’s wife, Linda, in Central Islip.
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.
After earlier focusing on Singh’s relationship with the Mangano family, much of the past week focused on Singh’s dealings with Venditto. Singh told the court last week that, unlike the Manganos, his relationship with Venditto was strictly business. He gave Venditto gifts — such as food and drinks at his restaurants, a free limousine rides — in exchange for loan guarantees from Oyster Bay.
Singh previously testified that he needed the loans because he was struggling financially. That claim was supported by Gilmartin, who said that Singh’s finances were “not good,” according to Newsday.
With the backing of Oyster Bay, Gilmartin’s bank extended a $1.5 million line of credit and a $3.4 million loan to Singh in 2010. Gilmartin testified that he dealt with then-Deputy Town Attorney Frederick Mei during this process, not Venditto. But he did say that the bank’s files included a resolution that noted Venditto voted in approval of amending concession contracts for Singh to get approval, Newsday said.
Much of the trial to date has been dominated by Singh, the prosecution’s star witness. Last week Singh wrapped up his time on the stand, where he had spent 13 days being questioned by the prosecution and the defense.
Also taking the stand on Tuesday was Paul Evwiehor, who had served as the general manager for Singh’s restaurant, Water’s Edge in Long Island City. According to Newsday, Evwiehor said that Singh told him to be a straw donor for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
A straw donor is someone who makes a political contribution in his or her name using someone else’s money. Evwiehor said he did not know this was illegal, Newsday said. He also testified that de Blasio held two fundraisers free of charge at Water’s Edge.
De Blasio has not been charged with wrongdoing, and he has denied any illegal behavior.