By Arul Louis
New York– A New York politician has been convicted in a US federal court of taking bribes from a once-high-flying Indian-American restauranteur whose web of influence even enmeshed the city’s mayor.
A jury found Edward Mangano, the former elected head of Nassau county on Long Island, guilty of several charges of accepting bribes and kickbacks from Harendra Singh, officials said on Friday.
Singh has pleaded guilty to bribing Mangano and in a deal with the prosecutors turned approver and testified against him.
“Mangano abused his power as a public official by taking bribes and kickbacks from a businessman in exchange for helping him obtain loans worth millions of taxpayer dollars”, federal prosecutor Richard Donoghue said.
A Republican, Mangano was elected in 2009 to the office of County Executive of Nassau, which has a population of 1.3 million and adjoins New York City.
His wife, Linda, who was convicted of conspiracy and other charges, had “a bogus job as a food taster and menu planner at one of Singh’s restaurants”, said William F. Sweeney, a Federal Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director.
Prosecutors said that she received $450 for the job that did not require her to report for duty.
The couple face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
This is the second time the Mangano couple was put on trial. The first trial last year ended because the jury could not agree on a verdict.
Singh had admitted in 2016 in court that he was guilty of bribing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to get a concessional lease for a restaurant on city-owned land.
However, de Blasio was not charged because the federal prosecutors felt there was insufficient proof against the Mayor, who did not personally benefit from the bribes, which were directed towards his election campaign. De Blasio is an influential Democratic Party national leader, who is said to be considering a run for president.
Singh gave the Manganos a $7,500 watch, a vibrating chair, paid for their vacations and for work on their house in return for helping him get a town to guarantee bank loans totaling $20 million and for various contracts, including one to provide bread to jails, according to court testimonies. (IANS)