County exec, wife, town su­per­vi­sor plead not guilty in cor­rup­tion case

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By Frank Elt­man

The high­est elected of­fi­cial in a large county out­side New York City and a town su­per­vi­sor pleaded not guilty Thurs­day to fed­eral charges that they con­spired to re­ceive bribes and kick­backs from a busi­ness­man in ex­change for help­ing him ob­tain $20 mil­lion in loan guar­an­tees.

Nas­sau County Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­ward Mangano and Oys­ter Bay Town Su­per­vi­sor John Ven­ditto, along with Mangano’s wife Linda, were named in the 13-count in­dict­ment al­leg­ing ex­tor­tion, bribery, fraud and ob­struc­tion charges.

The three pleaded not guilty at their ar­raign­ments in U.S. District Court in Cen­tral Is­lip and were freed on $500,000 bond each. The charges were the lat­est in a se­ries of re­cent scan­dals in­volv­ing pub­lic of­fi­cials on Long Is­land.

“Yet again, we an­nounce a breach of trust by two of our pub­lic of­fi­cials,” U.S. At­tor­ney Robert Capers said at a press con­fer­ence. “Both of th­ese men un­der­mined the very sys­tem of laws they promised to up­hold by fur­ther­ing their per­sonal in­ter­ests rather than the best in­ter­ests of their con­stituents.”

Linda Mangano is charged with ac­cept­ing a $450,000 no-show job at the busi­ness­man’s res­tau­rant, and ly­ing to fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors. Ed­ward Mangano and his wife also are charged with ac­cept­ing va­ca­tions to Florida and the Caribbean, as well as other gifts in­clud­ing a $7,300 watch, two chairs val­ued at nearly $7,000, and $3,700 in hard­wood floor­ing for the cou­ple’s Beth­page, New York, bed­room.

The in­dict­ment says Ed­ward Mangano and Ven­ditto re­ceived bribes and kick­backs for as­sist­ing in guar­an­tee­ing loans to the busi­ness­man, and that Ven­ditto also lied to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Prose­cu­tors did not pub­licly iden­tify the busi­ness­man. But Haren­dra Singh, the for­mer owner of a Beth­page res­tau­rant and other fa­cil­i­ties on Long Is­land, is await­ing trial on fed­eral bribery charges in­volv­ing Oys­ter Bay of­fi­cials.

“My pri­or­ity is to pro­vide Haren­dra Singh with the most pow­er­ful le­gal de­fense pos­si­ble and to con­tinue to fight for him, re­gard­less of who else is charged in this in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Singh’s at­tor­ney, An­thony LaPinta, said in a state­ment.

Mangano told re­porters after his re­lease that he would “ab­so­lutely not” re­sign.

“Amer­ica is the great­est coun­try in the world and I have an op­por­tu­nity when at the proper time to present my ev­i­dence that re­bukes any of this non­sense that I would ever do any­thing that sac­ri­fices my oath of of­fice,” Mangano said. “It is ridicu­lous but I can’t say any­thing more. I’m go­ing to con­tinue to gov­ern. I’ll go to work.”

Linda Mangano, 54, who wiped away tears dur­ing the ar­raign­ment, had no com­ment.

Ven­ditto’s at­tor­ney, Brian Grif­fin, said his client will vig­or­ously de­fend him­self against the charges.

“Those in­volved in this scheme al­legedly lied about their con­duct to in­ves­ti­ga­tors, fan­ning the flames of a fire that be­came too large to con­tain. Pub­lic cor­rup­tion wastes count­less tax dol­lars ev­ery year, threat­ens the cred­i­bil­ity of gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions, and opens the door for fur­ther crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity,” said FBI As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor-in-Charge Wil­liam F. Sweeney.

Mangano, 54, a two-term Repub­li­can who touts his tax-cut­ting poli­cies, was first elected in 2009. Ven­ditto, 67, also a Repub­li­can, was elected su­per­vi­sor of Oys­ter Bay — a sprawl­ing town­ship that stretches from the At­lantic Ocean to the Long Is­land Sound — in 1998.

SETH WENIG — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Aug. 15, 2013 file photo, Nas­sau County Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­ward Mangano speaks at a news con­fer­ence in Mi­ne­ola. Mangano, the high­est elected of­fi­cial in a large county out­side New York City has been in­dicted along with his wife and a Long Is­land town su­per­vi­sor, fed­eral au­thor­i­ties said Thurs­day.

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