A federal jury in Brooklyn convicted former State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. on Monday of stealing from the publicly funded health care clinic he operated in the Bronx, but the judge declared a mistrial on the remaining counts against the former lawmaker and all counts against Espada's son. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Nearly every day for the last two months, Pedro Espada Jr. has been upbeat about his chances, but the former State Senate majority leader's optimism was no match for the jury.
On Monday, jurors in Brooklyn federal court found Espada guilty of four counts of theft. He was accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his not-for-profit health care clinic in the Bronx, Soundview HealthCare Network.
Prosecutors said Espada treated the clinic like his personal ATM, funding a lavish lifestyle with money that should have been used to provide health care for the poor.
The former senator's son, Pedro G. Espada, was also on trial, but the jury was hung on all counts related to him.
A mistrial was declared on eight counts against the younger Espada and four counts against the elder Espada.
"This is a sad day for Mr. Espada and his family," said Susan Necheles, the former lawmaker's attorney.
At times it seemed like a mistrial would be declared on all counts. Notes from the jury room indicated that the deliberations were hostile at times, with jurors deadlocked.
"One of the jurors right from the start came to the table and within 15 minutes of our deliberation, without even looking at a document, jumped up and said, 'He's innocent, he's innocent, he's innocent. I don't care what you tell me, I'll never change my mind,'" said one juror.
Other jurors shared with reporters how they were able to convince three holdouts to convict.
"A couple of us just got together and really laid it out for them from A to Z," said another juror.
When Governor Andrew Cuomo was state attorney general, he helped bring the charges against Espada.
He said in a statement, "Those who would abuse the public trust have a pointed lesson in the downfall of former Senator Espada.... In New York, we will have no tolerance for government corruption.... Mr. Espada has made many accusations and comments about me since my actions began. Today the jury spoke loud and clear making Mr. Espada a convicted felon."
Espada is facing up to 10 years in prison for each theft count. Prosecutors also want him to hand over close to $450,000 they say he stole.
The U.S. attorney's office has the ability to retry the counts the jury could not reach a decision on, but it seems unlikely given the high-profile conviction it has already won.