- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 16, 2018

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) - A lawyer for former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who is accused of helping a restaurant owner in exchange for bribes and kickbacks, said in closing arguments in the Republican politician’s federal bribery trial Wednesday that there were no backroom dealings.

Defense lawyer Kevin Keating said Mangano handled millions of dollars in contracts while serving as Nassau County executive, and that restaurateur Harendra Singh only benefited from one contract worth $230,000 to feed first responders after Superstorm Sandy.

“If there wasn’t a superstorm, Singh would have gotten nothing from Nassau County. Zero, zero,” Keating told jurors, adding that it was the Nassau County health commissioner who picked Singh, not Mangano, to feed workers after the October 2012 storm.

The indictment charges that Mangano and a former town supervisor, John Venditto, helped Long Island businessman, Harendra Singh, obtain guaranteed loans in exchange for bribes and kickbacks. Mangano’s wife, 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. All three pleaded not guilty to extortion, bribery and other charges.

“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 on Tuesday.

Tierney listed a litany of alleged bribes, including family vacations, numerous free meals, a $7,000 watch for Mangano’s son, hardwood flooring worth thousands of dollars 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.

Linda’s lawyer, John Carman, said Wednesday his client did not have a no-show job, but a “low-show job,” which he said was not illegal. He said she did the work but wasn’t at the office for 40-plus hours a week.

The jury is expected to get the case by the end of the week.

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