NEW YORK (AP) - A prosecutor accused former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano of trading his office for money during closing arguments Tuesday in the Republican politician’s federal bribery trial that also has ensnared his wife and a former town supervisor.
“This case is about corruption and greed at the highest levels and what the defendants did to hide what they did,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Tierney told jurors.
Mangano, his wife, Linda, of Bethpage, New York, and John Venditto, a former Oyster Bay town supervisor, all have pleaded not guilty to an indictment alleging extortion, bribery and more.
The indictment charges that Mangano and Venditto received bribes and kickbacks to help a Long Island businessman, Harendra Singh, obtain guaranteed loans. Linda Mangano, prosecutors said, was given a $100,000-a-year, no-show job at one of Singh’s restaurants, enabling her to make $450,000 over several years while doing little besides tasting food.
Singh was the star witness and testified that he rented a building to the Republican at a discount and gave his office free food.
In closing arguments, Tierney listed litany of alleged bribes, including family vacations, numerous free meals, a $7,000 watch for Mangano’s son, hardwood flooring worth thousands and a $3,600 massage chair. Venditto accepted from Singh $11,400 in limousine services for his family and friends, Tierney said.
The Manganos said they had a two-decade personal friendship with Singh, long before Mangano was elected, and that any gifts or favors between the families had nothing to do with his office.
Venditto’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, has said his client “got nothing of any consequence” from Singh.
As part of his own criminal case, Singh pleaded guilty to paying bribes to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in the form of campaign contributions, in an attempt to resolve a dispute with the city over a restaurant lease there.
The Democratic mayor was not prosecuted. He has denied taking any bribes and suggested Singh pleaded guilty only because he was desperate to get leniency for other corrupt acts.
The jury is expected to get the case by the end of the week.
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