A mistrial has been declared in the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife, Linda, after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the ninth day of deliberations.
Wednesday morning — on Day 46 of the political corruption trial — jurors sent a note out to Judge Joan Azrack that they were deadlocked. Azrack asked them to continue deliberating, and on Thursday morning they asked to read over FBI testimony.
Azrack called for a June 28 conference at 10:30 a.m. to set a date for a new trial for the Manganos.
Last week, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts for co-defendant John Venditto, a former Town of Oyster Bay supervisor.
Restaurateur Harendra Singh was center stage through much of the trial at the U.S. District courthouse in Central Islip, testifying about a years-long history of doing favors for Ed Mangano in exchange for political “juice” to help Singh's struggling businesses.
Mangano and Venditto both faced multiple charges of bribery and corruption, and Singh, who pleaded guilty to bribing the former officials, was the government's key witness.
Time and again, when asked by government prosecutor Lara Gatz why he did a number of favors for Mangano, a rising Republican star at the time — including discounting a $57,000 running restaurant tab by more than $40,000 — Singh responded, “He was my friend. He was the highest elected official in the county.”
According to Singh, when he allowed Mangano to rent a portion of family-owned Bethpage property for his county executive campaign headquarters, and later, after Mangano won the election, bought the new county executive a $3,000 ergonomic chair, he expected political favors in return.
Singh described Mangano's alleged manner of asking for things without directly asking, such as for a discount on his staff's meal tab, or the chair, as generally pointing out something that he lacked, and wished he had.
“That was the style of Ed,” Singh said. “He would mention there were certain things he wants, and you understood what he was asking.”
Singh, 59, owned and operated a number of restaurants on Long Island and beyond, and according to his testimony, his connection with Nassau County and Oyster Bay politics began with his joining the Bethpage Republican Club — on the recommendation of an Oyster Bay town official — in the early 1990s, continued with a series of contracts to operate concessions at the Town of Oyster Bay golf course and other town properties, and ended with his 2015 arrest related to a series of loan guarantees he got from the town, allegedly with Mangano's help.
Leaving the courthouse Thursday after the mistrial was declared, the Manganos and their attorneys spoke briefly with the media. Both Manganos profusely thanked their attorneys for believing in and supporting them throughout the case. Ed Mangano added that it was Psalm 35 that inspired him and his wife throughout the trial.
Ed Mangano first said that the 12-week trial was an “emotionally devastating time in our family.” Shortly after, he added that it was “emotionally draining and physically hurtful.” He said his biggest concern was the emotional strain on his elderly parents, who he said were in the courtroom every day for support.
“I’d like to thank all those who gave us strength to get through such a difficult period in our lives,” he said.
Linda echoed her husband’s sentiments and said she chose to look at the glass as half-full.
“I feel so blessed to have so many people there for us,” she said. “I just feel very appreciative. This has been very hard on Ed, on my children. I have such a beautiful support system.”
Both declined to comment on the second, forthcoming trial.
Attorneys for both Manganos said there was strong support for their clients among jurors they spoke with. John Carman said an overwhelming majority was in favor of acquittal for Linda as recently as Thursday morning — including the jury foreman. Keating said jurors he spoke with were “leaning heavily toward acquittal” of his client.
Ed Mangano also said that he was hurt that the work of his administration during and after Hurricane Sandy was portrayed in a negative light.
“I tried my best — especially during Sandy — and my team put in such efforts,” he said. “They worked tirelessly and did a great job.” Mangano said he especially wanted to honor former Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management Craig Craft, who led the mass lifesaving evacuation and rescue efforts during and immediately after the powerful storm. Craft died suddenly of a heart attack last year at 54.
Asked about his relationship with Singh, Ed Mangano said it’s been one of the “hardest things.”
“We were family,” he said. “What do you say about family? I wish him peace — he and his family.”
The Manganos maintained that they had a close 25 year friendship with Singh and his family.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who introduced an anti-corruption bill last year, on the same day that a date for Mangano's trial was announced, said Thursday that he was disappointed in the result, but that “justice will ultimately prevail” in Mangano's case.
"Regardless of the outcome, the evidence shown at trial made taxpayers sick and brought to light their worst fears about what takes place in the underbelly of their government,” Kaminsky said. “Sadly, our federal and state laws make it extremely difficult to prove that clearly corrupt acts are also criminal. In our state, it should simply be illegal to give lavish gifts to those in power. Surprisingly, such acts are only considered regulatory infractions."
Kaminsky added that another of his Senate bills, which would strictly enforce gifts to public officials, should be adopted immediately, in light of the mistrial.