A federal judge has set a tentative trial date for next January in the corruption case against Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, his wife and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto.
On Wednesday Judge Joan Azrack set the date during her first pre-trial hearing in the case, which was assigned to her at Central Islip federal court after all three had pleaded not guilty following their October arrests. The lengthy delay comes after prosecutors said they’ll need up to three more months to turn over the tens of thousands of pages of documents they have gathered as evidence. Defense attorneys have told the judge they will need to sort through the files.
“It’s really not been a distraction,” County Executive Mangano told reporters outside the courthouse after reiterating that he has no plans to resign despite repeated calls for him to step down. “There’s a lot going on that I want to continue to do.”
Prosecutors have said the two Republican lawmakers conspired to use their power to back $20 million in loans for and award contracts to a businessman, who in turn gave them kickbacks and a $450,000 no-show job for Linda Mangano. Authorities have not identified the businessman, but he was widely reported to be Mangano’s close friend, Harendra Singh, the Syosset-based restaurateur charged in 2015 with fraud and bribing an Oyster Bay official.
“As I have said repeatedly, this man is innocent,” said Mangano’s Garden City-based attorney, Kevin Keating. “We’re fighting this to the end.”
Venditto declined to comment to reporters as he left the courthouse. He resigned last month after two decades as the top elected official in the Town of Oyster Bay. Former New York State Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa) was appointed to replace Venditto last week.
In response to a question Mangano’s aides said the county executive has yet to make a decision about whether he will seek a third term. So far the Nassau Republicans have not named anyone to replace him. Nassau Democrats announced Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) as their candidate, although Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and County Comptroller George Maragos, a Republican who recently switched parties, have said they plan to challenge her to a primary in September.
Asked how his wife was holding up, the county executive suggested that Linda Mangano isn’t as nonchalant about the charges as he has been.
“How would any wife deal with this?” he asked rhetorically. “It’s very difficult.”
Judge Azrack set the tentative trial date for Jan. 15, 2018, which is 10 weeks after the November elections. Prosecutors indicated that the trial is expected to take eight weeks. Venditto and the Manganos are due back in court April 5.