A Hamptons landscaper testifies at Manafort trial

Straight From Cyprus

They weren’t checks from Capital One, but you can pay your tab at Nick & Toni’s with money wired from Cyprus, too.

A local landscaper found himself in the middle of a tale of international intrigue —and testifying in the most watched trial in America. Not to mention cashing hundreds of thousands of dollars of foreign wire transfers.

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, is in deep legal trouble. His trial on 18 charges of bank and tax fraud is ending in Alexandria, VA, and even if he beats the rap, he is by no means free and clear. “The longtime GOP operative still faces a second federal trial slated to begin in mid-September in Washington,” reports Politico. In that case, Manafort is accused of failing to register as a foreign agent — he reportedly lobbied for the government of Ukraine, and was paid handsomely for the chore.

How handsomely? Court records reveal Manafort pulled in more than $60 million from his Ukrainian clients. The New York Times reported he fronted 15 or more shell companies to shield the loot. “Mr. Manafort used his tax-free dollars, prosecutors have said, to support a lifestyle of staggering extravagance. In 2012 alone, he bought three homes,” according to The New York Times.

The fall from grace has been swift and stunning. He was behind on the mortgage of his Brooklyn townhouse and even had trouble paying for his front row box at Yankees Stadium. And lest anyone believe a hot dog and beer comes cheaply in the hallowed halls that Ruth built, be advised Manafort had to charge his American Express card a whopping $210,000 to settle the score with the Bronx Bombers.

But Manafort always paid his Hamptons landscaper on time, even if the money did show up via wire from Cyprus.

Michael Regolizio, the owner of New Leaf Landscaping and Maintenance, was undoubtedly surprised when he was called to testify at Manafort’s trial.

It turns out that Manafort’s pad, down a private road at 174 Jobs Lane in Bridgehampton, is well coiffed indeed. Regolizio landscaped a giant flowerbed shaped like an “M” in the front yard. Regolizio told the court he installed trees, hundreds of flowers, and was responsible for the overall landscaping care of the property.

Regolizio was paid more than $400,000 between 2010 and 2014. The court was shown there were a number of Cyprus wire transfers that were applied to Manafort’s New Leaf Landscaping account.

Other testimony revealed the property is wired with a $2.2 million audio-video system, complete with Apple TVs and a $10,000 karaoke machine. Regolizio reported there is a manmade pond on the property which one British tabloid apparently mistook for a moat, according to published reports. Regolizio did not return phone calls by press time.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com