October 20, 2016 / 1:05 PM / 3 years ago

Top Nassau County, New York official arrested on corruption charges

(Reuters) - The top elected official in one of the wealthiest U.S. counties, his wife and another local official were indicted on Thursday, charged with corruption, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Robert L. Capers (L), United States Attorney Eastern District of New York, leaves a news conference after announcing the unsealing of an indictment charging Edward Mangano, the Nassau County Executive, John Venditto, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor, and Linda Mangano, the wife of Edward Mangano, at Federal Plaza in Central Islip, New York, U.S., October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife Linda and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto were arrested in connection with a 13-count federal indictment on charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and honest services fraud, extortion and making statements.

Prosecutors allege that Mangano and Venditto, “together with others, engaged in a scheme to solicit and receive bribes and kickbacks from Co-conspirator #1” in exchange for performing official actions, including guaranteeing of loans and awarding of contracts.

“Yet again, we announce a breach of trust by two of our public officials,” said Robert Capers, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Co-conspirator No. 1, who was not identified, owned 30 businesses, including restaurants in nearby Queens, New York, and operates food concessions for Nassau County agencies, authorities said.

Linda Mangano was paid $450,000 between 2010 and 2014 for doing little to no work for co-conspirator #1, the prosecutors alleged.

Mangano’s attorney could not be immediately reached.

Video from WABC television in New York showed the Manganos leaving their home in the Long Island town of Bethpage Thursday morning and entering awaiting vehicles.

“I plan on giving my own press conference. Let’s see what they are saying, and I will be happy to respond. That’s all I can say right now,” Mangano told WABC before he and his wife got into the vehicles.

Mangano, a Republican, is the top elected official in Nassau County, one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, situated just east of New York City on Long Island. It is among the top 50 wealthiest counties in the United States.

The county’s finances have been in disarray for years and are subject to a state-operated oversight board.

Prosecutors and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation unsealed the 20-page indictment on Thursday. Federal agents used two search-and-seizure warrants for Mangano’s residence and office.

Mangano’s arrest marks the latest in a string of corruption cases brought by federal prosecutors against local officials on Long Island. Prosecutors recently won convictions against the former chief of police for neighboring Suffolk County and the head of the Suffolk Conservative Party.

“Public corruption wastes countless tax dollars every year, threatens the credibility of governmental institutions, and opens the door for further criminal activity,” said William Sweeney, FBI assistant director in charge.

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