CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio was mentioned again Wednesday in the corruption trial of former Nassau County executive Ed Mangano.
For 12 days, the prosecution’s star witness, Harendra Singh, has been testifying about his shameless efforts to bribe public officials, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported. Now, we’re learning new details about his interactions with the mayor, for whom he raised money and from whom he claims he received support for his restaurant business plus access to high-level officials.
Singh testified Wednesday he was introduced to then-public advocate de Blasio in 2010 while trying to get a lucrative lease extension at his Water’s Edge restaurant. Soon after, de Blasio got him the ear of the city commissioner considering his request, he testified.
Singh testified he had many face-to-face meetings and conversations dealing directly with de Blasio about fundraising. Each time he would remind de Blasio he wanted his lease extended as soon as possible and got the sense de Blasio wanted a favorable outcome for him, he testified.
Singh was asked, “Would de Blasio call you looking for money?”
He replied, “I remember a few times he called me and asked to support certain candidates.”
“Including himself?” he was asked.
“He was always looking for money for himself,” he replied.
Singh testified he explained, “I will have to find a straw donor.”
“You said this to Bill de Blasio?” he was asked.
Singh replied, de Blasio said, “I don’t want to know what you’ve got to do.”
Later, Singh would contact a top City Hall aide, calling himself a very loyal and early friend of de Blasio and complaining it was “heart wrenching” that the lease extension had not happened yet.
So why this line of questioning during the corruption trial of Nassau County officials? The defense appears to be trying to underscore the difference between face-to-face direct interactions between Singh and de Blasio and his less-than-direct give-and-take with county politicians, Gusoff reported.
The defense counsel is barred from telling the jury that de Blasio has not been criminally charged.
Meanwhile, the mayor has firmed denied he did anything improper and says he merely treated Singh as he would any other constituent.
Cross-examination continues Thursday.