- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - New York state Sen. Thomas Libous asked a law firm to hire his son and help conceal that his son was also being paid by a lobbying firm, a disbarred lawyer testified Wednesday.

The law firm, eager for the new business Libous promised to steer its way, agreed to the deal even after a partner’s wife complained that the son had drunkenly propositioned her at a Christmas party, said Anthony Mangone, who was once a partner in the firm that has since disbanded.

Mangone, who has been convicted of bribery and extortion, testified on the second day of Libous’ federal trial. Libous, a Binghamton Republican who is the Senate’s deputy majority leader, is charged with lying to the FBI in 2010 about how his son’s employment was arranged.

He has denied wrongdoing, and his lawyer, Paul DerOhannesian, went after Mangone at the start of his cross-examination.

“You’re a liar, aren’t you?” the defense attorney asked.

“I have lied at times,” Mangone said.

Mangone is cooperating with the prosecution in Libous’ case in hopes of trimming his prison time when he is sentenced.

He testified that he and Libous were friends in 2005 when Libous asked if Mangone’s White Plains firm could take on his son Matthew. In exchange, Libous would steer enough business to the law firm “to build a new wing on our property,” Mangone said.

Thomas Libous said Matthew Libous would need about $150,000 a year, Mangone told prosecutor Benjamin Allee. The law firm only had to pay $100,000, however, because $50,000 would be paid by an Albany lobbying firm in the guise of a retainer, he said, with the law firm sending monthly bills for $4,166.

“The senator did not want to have a lobbying firm paying his son directly,” Mangone said. “He said it wouldn’t look good.”

The law firm accepted the deal because Libous said “he was going to get us a lot of work” and that meant profit for Mangone and his partner, Michael Santangelo. “We felt, risk versus reward, it would be a good investment,” Mangone testified.

The deal was endangered at the law firm’s 2005 holiday party when Matthew Libous allegedly confronted Lisa Santangelo, who was then Michael Santangelo’s wife.

“He was falling down drunk,” Lisa Santangelo testified Wednesday morning. “He just kept coming back to me being inappropriate and saying inappropriate things. He was hitting on me.”

Lisa Santangelo had a broken leg at the time and was unable to escape Libous’ advances until friends intervened, she said.

Mangone said the incident gave Michael Santangelo reservations about hiring Libous, so Mangone told Matthew Libous the next day that “we had to do some damage control.”

Matthew Libous sent flowers and an apology. Lisa Santangelo said she was offended and called her husband, but her husband put Libous on the phone to apologize again.

Mangone said Thomas Libous promised the partners that such an incident would never happen again.

The prosecution was apparently trying to show that the firm would have been unlikely to hire Matthew Libous except for his father’s promises.

Matthew Libous’ lawyer, John Meringolo, said Wednesday that Libous denies he did anything appropriate.

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