CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Testimony from the prosecution’s star witness continues at the trial of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto.
Restaurateur Harendra Singh testified last week that he bribed Mangano and Venditto with lavish gifts for favors, including government contracts.
He told the jury his endless freebies for officials was a way of “taking care” of them in exchange for them “taking care of him.” Limo rides on demand for Mangano and Venditto’s family, tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes to the Town of Oyster Bay deputy attorney, and free meals, deeply discounted weddings for a laundry list of Oyster Bay officials.
Singh says the freebies were also extended for key people in Nassau County government too.
“Our goal was to keep people close to Ed Mangano happy,” he said. “It was a necessary evil.”
One of the biggest perks, he said, was provided to Joe Mondello — longtime chairman of the Nassau County Republican Party; a $65,000 wedding for his daughter whittled down to $35,000.
Mangano’s wife is also charged with accepting a $450,000 no-show job. All three have pleaded not guilty to extortion, bribery and other charges.
“These are the most powerful people,” Singh said. “I had no choice but to comply.”
The Manganos say they were longtime friends with Singh and that any favors were because of their personal ties.
Defense attorneys also argue that Singh can’t be trusted because he struck a plea deal. As for Singh, he said he’s cooperating with prosecutors because he realized he’s been living a life of lies and deception and needed to tell the truth.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)