Singh: 'If You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours'

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The government’s star witness in the federal corruption trial of Ed Mangano and his wife spent an 11th day on the stand Monday.

The former Nassau County executive maintains the gifts he received were part of a true friendship, not bribes.

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At the heart of his defense are secretly taped conversations, on which restaurant mogul Harendra Singh admits that in exchange for the freebies he lavished on the Manganos, including a $100,000 a year no-show job for his wife Linda, Mangano did “nothing, nothing” in return.

Singh said on tape he would lie to save himself.

“To save my (expletive),” he’s heard saying. “I turn on them.”

The government wants him “to tell them a story about a politician. I don’t have a story, I wish I did. I could make (it) up. It would be all lies,” he said.

The bombshell tapes were played for the jury late last week. On Monday, the defense chronicled Singh’s crimes, painting him as a liar when it serves his own interest – to avoid life in prison.

The restaurateur is accused of bribing public officials for years, having $10 million in unreported cash income.

Singh, however, says he lied during the taped conversations.

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“Trying to protect people I was doing business with and bribing,” he said.

Linda Mangano’s attorney then had a turn, framing their relationship as true friendship, backed up by text message she often sent to Singh.

“Love you forever,” she would write.

“I loved them, I cared about them, but it was based on what I can do for them and what he could do for me,” said Singh.

“I decided to tell the truth and face the consequences, come clean and accept responsibility,” he told the jury.

Does he think his cooperation in the case against the Manganos will help his cause? He told the jury, “I hope so.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s name came up in court again Monday.

In a text message, Singh was congratulated by a friend for being “part of the de Blasio inaugural team.”

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He previously testified he tried to bribe the mayor in exchange for a restaurant lease extension.