A prominent Long Island restaurateur arranged and paid for several vacation trips for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and a top Oyster Bay Town official, a Newsday investigation has found.
Harendra Singh — a politically connected Bethpage-based businessman — coordinated travel itineraries and payment for trips for Mangano, members of the Mangano family and Oyster Bay Deputy Town Attorney Frederick Mei, according to emails, invoices and other documents obtained by Newsday.
Singh’s employees typically handled the arrangements for trips — to the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos, India and South Korea — the records show, but Singh was often personally involved. A July 18, 2013, email from Singh to his travel agent includes the following instruction: “Please send a pre paid car for Mangano as he is important.”
The records do not indicate whether Mangano ever reimbursed Singh, or whether he actually went on the trips. Mangano did not respond to requests for comment. His spokesman and his attorney declined to answer questions, including whether Mangano took the trips.
State and county laws prohibit public officials from accepting gifts from individuals or entities doing business with their government agencies. Such laws are in place to prevent people from influencing how public contracts are awarded.
Singh, whose sprawling business interests include restaurants, concession stands and a catering service, has landed several lucrative contracts from Nassau County and Oyster Bay.
Federal authorities subpoenaed Singh’s business records last year but have not questioned him specifically about the trips, said Joseph Conway, a Mineola criminal defense attorney who has represented Singh in the past. Conway said he helped Singh with the subpoenas but is not acting as his attorney “until he gets arrested or something, if in fact that’s going to happen.”
Conway said he does not know what the focus of the investigation is but added that Singh is cooperating with federal investigators.
A spokeswoman for the Eastern District of the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.
The records obtained by Newsday show Singh and his employees worked with Travel Time and Tours, a Hicksville travel agency, to schedule two trips for Mangano and three of his family members. Those trips overlapped with ones Singh planned for himself and members of his own family.
The first trip, in July 2012, was scheduled for St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The second trip, scheduled for July 2013, was for the Turks and Caicos, where Singh arranged for the Manganos to stay in a two-bedroom oceanfront suite for $4,961.
An email dated June 3, 2013, sent by a travel agent to Singh, said the total cost of a trip to the Turks and Caicos for Singh, Singh’s guests and the Manganos was $17,498.
A source familiar with the situation said the 2012 trip might have been canceled but that Mangano and his family went on the second trip to the Turks and Caicos.
Brian Nevin, Mangano’s spokesman, declined to answer questions for this story and did not provide Newsday with Mangano’s calendar for the days the trips were scheduled. Nevin referred questions to Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating.
“There is absolutely no story here,” said Keating, a criminal defense attorney in Garden City. “The Manganos and the Singhs have been friends for many, many years, lifelong friends.”
Click here to read the rest of the Newsday story. And check out this follow up story on the array of elected and appointed officials who attended Singh’s lavish foundation dinners.