MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. (AP) — An alleged sexting scandal involving the top official in one of America's largest suburban counties was a hoax, a police detective said Thursday following a nearly three-week investigation.
"As far as I'm concerned, the sexting case is closed," Nassau County Detective Sgt. Patrick Ryder told reporters.
Ryder said there is no evidence that County Executive Edward Mangano and a public relations executive who did business with the suburban county, just east of New York City on Long Island, had sent texts or Twitter messages to each other.
Mangano, a 53-year-old Long Island Republican, has vehemently denied sexually suggestive texts were sent from his phone. The woman, Karin Murphy Caro, also denied sexting.
"As I stated from the moment this matter was brought to my attention, my family and I are the victims of a hoax perpetuated by a deranged individual," Mangano said in a statement following the police press conference.
Caro, 40, sent a Twitter message on Thursday that simply said "Thank you."
The reports of alleged sexting grew out of a WCBS-TV report on Feb. 13. The report alleged Mangano, who is in his second term, had been communicating with women in sexually suggestive ways, although Caro was the only person publicly linked to the politician. The allegations, which WCBS-TV said came from an anonymous source, drew immediate comparisons to former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner after he was accused of sexting in 2011.
Rachel Ferguson, a spokeswoman for WCBS-TV, declined comment Thursday on the police investigation.
Ryder said that both Mangano and Caro had submitted their cellphones to investigators, who found no evidence the two had ever communicated electronically. He said there also was no evidence that either had sent messages that were subsequently deleted.
"The evidence that I have, and the investigation that I did shows that Mr. Mangano and Mrs. Caro did not sext each other," Ryder said.
Although there is no evidence of a personal relationship, the two have met professionally. In a video Caro produced that was put on YouTube in 2013, she is shown interviewing Mangano in his office, thanking him for "giving a regular girl like me the opportunity to sit down with you; I mean, you're an amazing guy."
Mangano is the chief executive of a county of 1.3 million people and has control over a $2.9 billion budget, 7,250 employees, public works, social services and, most notably, the police.
Ryder defended the police department investigation of the county leader, saying he was not influenced by political pressure, as some have said.
"I was brought up to tell the truth, I am telling you the truth. My job is to follow the evidence. I don't get involved in the politics," he said.
Caro received two contracts to provide "unique expertise" in promoting special events for the county's parks department. The contracts were for just under $25,000, a sum that does not require county legislative approval.
The district attorney has said she is currently reviewing the county's contract procurement procedures.
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