It was a quintessential New York corruption story. A few years ago, state Senator Pedro Espada Jr. and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, were busted by then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of embezzling at least $500,000 from the family’s nonprofit in the Soundview section of the Bronx. Former Voice writer Tom Robbins called him “Albany’s greatest scoundrel” and, now, a week before the Bronx Democrat’s long-awaited sentencing, Mr. Espada Jr. wants a judicial re-do.
Last October, both Espadas pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charges in Brooklyn Federal Court, facing enormous compensation fees and possibly 10 years in jail. But apparently, according to Espada Jr., the processes that resulted in these charges were rushed and maybe faulty: He is claiming that Judge Frederic Block cut the deliberations down to 20 minutes to get a verdict from the jurors.
“We’re saying that Judge Block, his clerk perhaps, and others entered that sacred jury deliberations room and stressed the importance of the jury coming to a verdict and that the government had spent a lot of money on the case and they jury should push to come to a conclusion,” Espada Jr. said at a press conference yesterday outside of the court.
To prove his point, Espada Jr., his attorney, and a private investigator have released partial transcripts from conversations with two jurors on the trial a year after the embezzlement was discovered. Along with a retrial, he’s requesting for Judge Block to step down from all further proceedings, even though reports say Block only considered two months for the guilty embezzler.
The status of the retrial request is still uncertain. The parties are meeting Thursday to see what the next step could be. The Voice will keep you updated on this way-too-drawn-out saga.