CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Stunning allegations of blatant bribery and kickbacks were made Thursday in Long Island federal court in the trial of a former Nassau County executive and town supervisor.
Restaurateur Harendra Singh continuing his testimony, describing what he claims were favors he carried out for the politicians in exchange for business deals, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Jurors were promised a view of the corrupt Nassau County political machine and prosecutors say this is what it looked like: a never-ending flood of bribes from restaurant owner Singh to former county executive Ed Mangano, a friendship that evolved into a corrupt give and take.
Mangano allegedly took fully paid family vacations, including one to the Caribbean. Plus:
— A $3,600 massage chair, paid for by Singh.
— $4,600 worth of hardwood floors, installed in the county executive’s bedroom.
— A $7,300 watch Singh said Managno requested for his son’s birthday.
Singh told the jury, “The county executive asked me to help him. I had to do it, so he could help us doing business with Nassau County.”
And in return?
“Our expectation was whatever we needed, any help anywhere in the county, we would get it,” Singh said.
When asked by prosecutors if any of it was a bribe, Singh responded, “Yes.”
So was the $3,600 in cash — Singh told the jury — Mangano asked him to change out, out of fear that money accepted from a contractor were marked bills.
Prosecutors must prove that what Singh gave was more than just gifts between friends, but a quid pro quo that provided Singh with official action in return, Gusoff reported.
Such as: a $230,000 contract to serve emergency food to hundreds of county workers after Superstorm Sandy.
There was also damning testimony about freebies provided to Oyster Bay supervisor John Venditto, too, including tens of thousands of dollars in lavish limo rides for the entire Venditto family and friends, plus a free conference room and food on demand at Singh’s restaurant.
“They were doing things for me and I was doing things for them,” Singh testified.
It’s the defense’s claim that Singh gave out of friendship and received nothing official in return, and to avoid decades in prison he is simply lying.
The defense has not yet begun its cross examination of Singh.
And late Thursday, Singh admitted he tried to bribe New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, too. He told jurors he raised funds for the mayor, using illegal staw donors, hoping to get more favorable terms to his city lease for his Water’s Edge restaurant.
However, Singh said he did not give any money or gifts directly to the mayor.