Long Island Restaurateur Testifies in Bribery Scandal Involving U.S. Mayor
Harendra Singh, who owns the Water’s Edge restaurant in Long Island City, publicly gave details about his efforts to raise money for New York mayor Bill de Blasio.
Long Island restaurateur Harendra Singh testified under oath on March 22 that he raised tens of thousands of dollars for New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s political campaigns for favorable treatment by the city.
In two instances, the Indian American restaurateur testified that de Blasio had asked contributions for himself or political allies, the New York Times reported. When Singh told him that had already met the limit, de Blasio said, Singh testified, “Do what you got to do, but I don’t want to know.”
This was the first time that Singh gave details about his efforts to use campaign contributions publicly. His contributions amounted to $80,000 raised from others, and even more personally by using “straw donors” — a person illegally using another person’s money to make a political contribution in their own name — to be on the edge of the contribution limits. Singh did all this so he could get terms that benefited him during lease negotiations for one of his restaurants.
Singh, who owns the Water’s Edge restaurant in Long Island City, had earlier secretly pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe de Blasio. He was a major campaign donor for de Blasio when he was running for the mayor position and raised $27,000 for the 2013 campaign.
When asked if his contributions to de Blasio were bribes, Singh was reported to have said: “Yes, in exchange of help, you know, at Water’s Edge, getting the lease extended.”
About de Blasio, Singh said: “He made many phone calls. His office was working very hard, from his deputy mayor to his assistant to his intergovernmental affairs person. Everyone was working.” He added in the same conversations that he and the mayor often talked about the lease and the donations. Singh is testifying as a prosecution witness in the corruption trial of former Nassau County executive Edward Mangano.
Mangano, his wife, Linda, and John Venditto, a former Oyster Bay town supervisor, have pleaded not guilty to an indictment that made allegations about extortion, bribery and more, CBS New York had reported earlier.
“Mr. Mangano lied and accepted bribes and his wife, Linda, had a $100,000-a-year year sham job,” assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Gatz told the court. Gatz added that in order to maintain his lifestyle, the former attorney and county legislator took to corruption.
The mayor, a second-term Democrat, however emphasized that Singh received the same treatment as any others in his constituency. He also has suggested that the restaurateur concocted the accusations to placate prosecutors and avoid jail for his own crimes.
Singh has agreed to testify against Mangano, who reportedly received gifts like a massage chair, an office chair and wood flooring meant for his bedroom. He also accepted a $7,000 watch for his son.
“I gave these donations to the elected official in exchange for efforts by that official and other city officials to obtain a lease renewal from the city agency for my restaurant on terms that were favorable to me,” Singh had admitted earlier.