New witness testimony in Mangano retrial may be setting strategy

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New witness testimony in Mangano retrial may be setting strategy
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, as seen leaving the federal courthouse in Central Islip. (Photo by Joe Nikic)

In the first full week of witness testimony in the retrial of former County Executive Edward Mangano on federal corruption charges, prosecutors have seemingly changed their strategy.

According to Newsday, while in the first trial restaurateur Harendra Singh was the prosecution’s first and most prominent witness, he has not yet appeared in court.

Several witnesses who were not called to testify in the first trial have testified this time, possibly in an effort to establish credibility for Singh’s testimony later.

Mangano once again faces charges of extortion, conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice, totaling seven counts. His wife, Linda Mangano, is facing five counts of obstruction of justice and false statements.

Singh has previously pleaded guilty, and his sentencing has been delayed on several occasions, according to court filings, possibly to take into consideration his testimony in the retrial.

Businessman Anthony Gulino, who has pleaded guilty to income tax offenses, testified Tuesday that he gave Edward Mangano $3,6000 cash in an envelope after doing home repair work for him, according to Newsday.

During examination by defense attorney Kevin Keating, Gulino said that he had won county contracts before allegedly bribing Mangano and did lose contracts thereafter, according to Newsday.

Aside from Gulino’s testimony, the prosecution has brought witnesses to the stand over the bread and rolls contract awarded to Singh following superstorm Sandy.

The contract, prosecutors say, is one of the favors Singh received from Edward Mangano in exchange for gifts and a “no-show job” for Linda Mangano, according to Newsday.

Laura Munafo, who previously worked under Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker and then Mangano, and John Morrissey of the state Department of Health, who both did not testify at the first trial, spoke Monday about circumstances surrounding the contract’s awarding to Singh, according to Newsday.

Munafo testified that the contracts for police and the Office of Emergency Management, after a dispute between Walker and Mangano in 2010, went to the county executive for decision, according to Newsday.

Munafo also said that Singh appeared at the office and asked to speak with Mangano, according to Newsday.

Morrissey testified that while working at the OEM after the storm struck, he noticed unsanitary conditions in which he saw jail inmates washing utensils in the men’s bathroom, and that after a conversation with Health Commissioner Lawrence Eisenstein, there was an immediate improvement to the food being served, according to Newsday.

During questioning by the prosecution, Morrissey said that the former county executive had a favorite vendor he liked to use, referring to but not naming Singh, and that vendor was eventually awarded the contract, according to Newsday.

Keating pointed out in cross-examination that the new vendor was three minutes away from the OEM rather than a half-hour away, which Morrissey agreed made sense from an operational position, according to Newsday.

Also on Monday, one juror was replaced with an alternate, according to court filings. No reason for the switch was given.

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