Trials & Litigation

Lawmaker's son hired despite 'acting like a clown' at firm party, witness testifies at trial

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The attorney son of a powerful New York state lawmaker didn’t positively impress Santangelo Randazzo & Mangone lawyers by hitting on a partner’s wife at a 2005 law firm Christmas party. But Matthew Libous got the job he wanted there anyway, with the help of his dad, federal prosecutors say. They are seeking to convict the father, state Sen. Thomas Libous, a Republican, of lying to the FBI during a 2010 meeting in his office. The senior Libous said he didn’t help his son get the job or arrange for a lobbying firm to pay part of his salary. But he did just that, the feds contend.

“He flat-out lied to them,” said assistant U.S. attorney Benjamin Allee of the senator in a Tuesday opening statement in the White Plains trial. In return for the job for his son, Allee said, the senator promised to send work to the law firm, the New York Times (reg. req.) reports.

On Wednesday, an ex-wife of one of the firm’s partners told jurors about the incident during the 2005 party, the Journal News reports.

“He was definitely over-served, as in drunk. He was acting like a clown,” said Lisa Falco Santangelo of Matthew Libous, noting that she had a hard time escaping his advances because she had broken her leg, which was in a cast. “He just kept coming back to me, being inappropriate, saying inappropriate things. Whether he meant it or not, he was hitting on me.”

Attorney John Meringolo represents Matthew Libous, who is not a defendant in the case and was not present when she testified. “It didn’t go down the way she said it went down,” Meringolo said. And the incident “absolutely, unequivocally is irrelevant to the alleged crime at hand,” he added.

Attorney Paul DerOhannesian represents Thomas Libous. He said in his opening statement that his client had tried to cooperate with the FBI and described the events of five years previously to the two agents, as he met with them with no advance notice, to the best of his recollection, the Times reports.

“Human memory is not a tape recorder,” DerOhannesian told the jury.

A disbarred lawyer, Anthony Mangone, is expected to be a key prosecution witness. He was formerly a partner of Michael Santangelo, Lisa Santangelo’s ex-husband.

Prosecutors say Mangone was the individual through whom Libous arranged the job for his son. DerOhannesian called Mangone a pathological liar, the Times reports.

DerOhannesian told the jury his client committed no crime, blaming the government for overreaching, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Prosecutors, he said, are “making a federal case out of denying you committed a crime.”

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawmaker lied to FBI about son’s law firm job, feds say; did lobby group fund son’s $50K raise?”

Journal News (2014): “Lawyer tied to corruption cases admits hiding income”

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