Friday Rant — Greed and Corruption on Long Island

You would think that after 36 years of practicing law, I would no longer be surprised, much less shocked, at the level of greed and corruption in politics and business.  What I am trying to understand is the motivation.  In this country, if you’ve got a decent brain and some education, you can have a pretty good life.  What do I mean by a good life?  Comfortable housing, adequate health care, the means to raise and educate your children, take vacations, do some traveling, pursue some cultural or avocational interests, and have a secure retirement.  Sure, nothing is guaranteed, nobody promised you a rose garden, much less a bed of roses, and there are plenty of speed bumps in life.  But by and large, you can do a little better than just get by.1)That is why I am so passionate about the work that I do — discrimination and injuries are probably the two most significant events that prevent one from realizing the promise that this great country holds

So where is the motivation for corruption, cheating, stealing and the like?  I can think of only two reasons: a twisted character (and nothing is more twisted than unmitigated greed) or gross incompetence, i.e., the inability to earn an honest living, or both.

There is a fascinating tale of greed, corruption and incompetence unfolding in Long Island.

The dope you see here is Edward P. Mangano, the County Executive for Nassau County.2)For those of you not familiar with the geography of the New York City area, Nassau County is one of two counties, outside of New York City, on Long Island, a long, narrow strip of land the extends East of the City.  Nassau County is one huge suburb of New York City.manganos  Beside him is Mrs. Dope.

Mr. Mangano has been arrested on bribery and corruption charges.  Considering that Mr. Mangano’s essentially acts as the Mayor of the 1.3 million residents of Nassau County, it’s kind of a big deal.  

The details are unfolding, but we know that Linda received over $400,000 for a no show job as “food taster” from this crook:

singh

His name is Harendra Singh and he runs, or ran, something called Singh Hospitality Group.  SHG mostly operated restaurants, including the well known Water’s Edge, once considered one of the more romantic spots to get married in NYC.  

waters-edgeIt’s now closed.  

From what I can gather, Mr. Singh allegedly masterminded the theft of a whole bunch of taxpayer money.  He obtained contracts to operate a couple of venues in Oyster Bay, a toney town on the North Shore, not far from Jay Gatsby’s old haunts, including the Woodlands, pictured below:

woodlands

Singh obtained the concession rights to operate the Woodlands in 1998 under an “emergency” RFP (Request for Proposal).  I don’t know what kind of emergency centered around the operation of a banquet hall.  Singh’s contract was extended to 2070(!).  Considering what subsequently happened, one would be excused for thinking that this “emergency” contract and the extension until forever involved some hanky panky.  Just a suspicion.

Here is where things get interesting.  Singh obtained loans of almost $20 million for improvements at the Woodlands and another facility, and the Town of Oyster Bay guaranteed those loans.  Can you guess what happened next?  Of course you can, Singh did not pay back the loans and the lenders sued the Town to collect on the guarantees.  The plot thickens, because the Town said that the guarantees, apparently signed by a town attorney, were not authorized, and it is refusing to pay.

In my opinion, Singh’s special talent is taking money and leaving others holding the bag.  Water’s Edge closed, because Singh stopped paying his employees, and after four or five weeks of working for nothing, they decided to stop working.  A lot of money is missing.  Singh owed $2 million in rent to New York City.  Oops.  More taxpayer money gone.  Deposits for weddings disappeared, and of course, five weeks of unpaid wages for a large restaurant adds up to a tidy sum.  Where did the money go?  Not hard to guess.

By the way, before this Oyster Bay stuff blew up, Singh had already been indicted for underreporting $17 million in sales and wages to the IRS, and submitting a false claim of $1 million for hurricane Sandy damage.  If I had to wager a guess as to where all this money went, I would say that it is no longer in the United States.

What you are looking at here is a mangle:

mangle

It is used to wring water out of clothes.  You put the clothes in one end, turn the rollers which put the big squeeze on the clothes.  The word for mangle in Italian is mangano.  A fitting name for a public servant who wrings bribes out of seedy businessmen.

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1. That is why I am so passionate about the work that I do — discrimination and injuries are probably the two most significant events that prevent one from realizing the promise that this great country holds
2. For those of you not familiar with the geography of the New York City area, Nassau County is one of two counties, outside of New York City, on Long Island, a long, narrow strip of land the extends East of the City.  Nassau County is one huge suburb of New York City.
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