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Corruption Indictments Rock Long Island, NY

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) — In a Long Island spin-off of "Albany on Trial," federal prosecutors unveiled charges against two of Nassau County's highest-ranking officials.

A 13-count indictment unsealed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York charges Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano; his wife, Linda Mangano; and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.

Prosecutors say Edward Mangano, who occupied the highest seat of power in Nassau County, set up a $450,000 "no-show" restaurant job for Linda.

An exasperated statement on the case by U.S. Attorney Robert Capers calls attention to the drumbeat of similar cases that have rocked New York in recent years.

"Yet again, we announce a breach of trust by two of our public officials," Capers wrote by way of introduction.

"In 2010, Nassau County voters granted Edward Mangano the opportunity to serve by electing him their highest ranking official in the County," he said. "Similarly, in 1998, Town of Oyster Bay voters granted John Venditto the honor of electing him their chief elected official. Yet, as alleged in the indictment, both of these men undermined the very system of laws they promised to uphold by furthering their personal interests rather than the best interests of their constituents."

Mangano and his wife, both 54, are residents of Bethpage.

Prosecutors say the couple traveled on an unidentified co-conspirator's dime to Niagara Falls, Canada; Marco Island, Fla.; Amelia Island, Fla; St. Thomas; and Turks and Caicos — while also accepting luxury gifts that included an office chair valued at more than $3,300, a more-than $3,600 massage chair, and a more-than $7,300 Panerai Luminar watch.

The unnamed benefactor is said in court papers to own roughly 30 businesses in Nassau County, including restaurants in Hicksville and Queens, N.Y.

Mangano's charges have long been anticipated since the case of disgraced New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was convicted last year in a spate of corruption prosecutions against the state's Legislature and executive branch.

During that trial, a jury heard Skelos on a wiretap pressuring Mangano to award a Hurricane Sandy contract to AbTech, an Arizona-based company that sold sponge-like products to clean water pipes.

Though Mangano is not charged with conduct involving AbTech, prosecutors do accuse him of steering a $237,000 emergency food contract in the wake of the storm to the restaurateur who underwrote his travels.

Mangano also helped land this person's company a $200,000 contract to supply bread and rolls to the Nassau County Correctional Center, according to the indictment.

With Mangano's assistance, Oyster Bay's supervisor Venditto obtained the town's guarantee on four loans totaling about $20 million to the same benefactor, and Venditto received free limousine service for more than two years in return, prosecutors say.

Charges in the indictment include bribery, extortion, obstruction of justice and honest services fraud.

The Nassau County Executive's office declined to comment, and the town of Oyster Bay has not returned a phone call seeking comment.

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