( 4UMF NEWS ) State Senator Found Guilty:
Disgraced former state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada was convicted Monday of stealing more than $500,000 from the federally funded health agency he and his family ran. But after the jury deadlocked on whether Espada’s son helped him rip off the Soundview Health Center, the judge declared a mistrial on the remaining counts.
The panel still has to decide how much in forfeiture Espada will have to pay on the four theft charges for which he was convicted. Prosecutors are seeking $448,000 from the one-time Democratic powerbroker, who faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced.
Espada sat stone-faced when he was found guilty of ripping off the clinic. His wife, Connie, looked stricken and appeared near tears. Before the verdict was read, Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Frederic Block warned everybody to behave.
“I don’t want any ruckus or noise because they are not finished with their service,” the judge said of the jury.
Prosecutors, however, were giddy. And when they left for lunch, loud cheers could be heard coming from their elevator.
But the government didn’t get everything it wanted.
The jury, which struggled for 11 days before finally giving up, failed to reach a verdict on the fifth theft count against Espada for stealing nearly $80,000 from Soundview in 2009. Nor was it able to reach a verdict on the three conspiracy counts against Espada.
Espada’s son, Pedro Gautier Espada, was charged with the same eight counts as his dad.
Jury deliberations have been marked by bickering, name-calling and a raft of notes to the judge.
Espada tried to sway jurors to his side by tapping the supernatural. The often-outspoken pol made a point of thumbing the Bible during closing arguments. And he whipped out his rosary beads and had his followers dress in red to ward off the “evil powers” of the government.
On Monday, fittingly, they all came dressed in black.
Prosecutors charged that Espada and his son embezzled the dough to pay for everything from lobster dinners and beach getaways to home improvements and piddly personal expenses like a $1.09 packet of chewing gum.
Espada denied he embezzled any money from the nonprofit.
- Ex-Senator Espada Guilty of Embezzling From Health Care Network (nytimes.com)
- The Albany Correspondent: Espada Guilty! By CARLOS GONZALEZ (yonkerstribune.typepad.com)
- Pedro Espada Jr. Found Guity on Four Counts (nymag.com)