CENTRAL ISLIP, NY (TIP): The 13-count indictment charges Mangano, the highest ranking elected official in Nassau County, with selling out his position to a wealthy businessman in exchange for free vacations, meals and other gifts. The businessman also allegedly paid Linda Mangano more than $450,000 for doing little or no work at one of his restaurants.
The businessman is not named in the indictment, but sources say the bribes were paid by restaurant owner Harendra Singh, who is now cooperating with the feds against Mangano and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, 67, who was also indicted. Mangano and Venditto are both Republicans. All three were released on $500,000 bail and are due back in court on Dec. 7.
The Manganos, both 54, are also charged with obstructing justice by repeatedly meeting with Singh to come up with bogus stories to explain the gifts and no-show job. Robert Capers, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Mangano and Venditto “undermined the very system of laws they promised to uphold by furthering their personal interests rather than the best interests of their constituents.
“Sadly, Mangano enlisted the assistance of his wife in an attempt to shield his wrongdoing from public scrutiny,” Capers added. Mangano and Venditto face up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted of honest services wire fraud, Mangano faces 20 years for extortion and the three each face up to 20 years for obstruction of justice.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif dismissed the criticism and noted that Democrats have also drawn recent legal scrutiny, referring to the probe of Mayor de Blasio’s 2014 fundraising efforts on behalf of Democratic Senate candidates. “Senator (Jack) Martins, Senator (Kemp) Hannon and Senator (Carl) Marcellino and the Republican candidates who are running there have already called on the County Executive and Town Supervisor to resign,” Reif said. “We have absolutely no tolerance for corruption of any kind, regardless of whether it is committed by a Democrat or Republican.”
Singh’s dealing with City Hall is the subject of a separate federal investigation by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney. Singh raised$21,425 for Mayor de Blasio’s 2013 campaign from friends and family. In June 2014, Singh was appointed to the Mayor’s Fund – a nonprofit that raises private money for city causes – and the Democratic National Committee.
Singh’s restaurant Water’s Edge, located on city-owned land in Queens, owes the city $1.2 million in back rent and late fees. On Thursday morning, a Long Island good government group called on Mangano and Venditto to resign.
“Given the fiscal mess that Nassau County and Oyster Bay find themselves in, County Executive Edward Mangano and Town Supervisor John Venditto should resign immediately,” Dean Hart, the head of Long Island Citizens for Good Government, said in a statement. “Nassau County and Oyster Bay need undivided attention and complete focus to address this very grave fiscal crisis, not politicians trying to cling to power.” Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, who recently changed parties from Republican to Democrat to run for county executive in 2017, called the allegations “a betrayal of the public trust and further shake our trust in government. Given the nature of the charges, it would be in the best interest of the county if both would resign in order to allow the people’s work to be conducted with unquestionable integrity.”
Oyster Bay spokeswoman Marta Kane said Venditto “is still the town supervisor,” but that Leonard Genova, who serves as both town attorney and deputy supervisor, would step in for Venditto’s absence if necessary. The announcement by Nassau Republicans comes only 19 days before Election Day. Martins is facing a tough battle with former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi in the vacant 3rd Congressional District.
Marcellino (R-Syosset) will take on Suffolk Water Commissioner James Gaughran while Hannon (R-Garden City) faces attorney Ryan Cronin. McGrath, a Hewlett attorney, faces Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) in a rematch of their April special election and Phillips, the mayor of the Village of Flower Hill, takes on Democratic businessman Adam Haber for the 7th Senate seat being vacated by Martins.
State Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Oyster Bay), the son of the Oyster Bay supervisor, did not attend the news conference but Martins said he agreed that the two should resign.
A Senate spokesman said Michael Venditto was expected to release a statement on Thursday.
Marcellino called it a “sad day” for Nassau but that “the people come first. People before politics. The government must go on.”
McGrath said replacing Mangano and Venditto “would restore public trust so that the children and our families know that we are have zero tolerance for corruption.”
Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy said Republican lawmakers “spent years empowering Ed Mangano and John Venditto and protecting them as they abused their offices to line their pockets … These corruption enablers standing up now is not only laughable but offensive. It’s is easy to feign outrage after the fact but let’s be clear they are part of this Nassau Republican criminal enterprise. “