Friday, June 26, 2009

More headaches for Sen. Espada: Judge benches plea deal for son over scuffle with blogger

Friday, June 26th 2009, 4:00 AM

M. Benjamin for News

Senator Pedro Espada walking away - deluged by media - after a meeting on June 18, 2009.

A deal brokered between prosecutors and State Sen. Pedro Espada's son to allow the younger Espada to avoid criminal charges fell apart in Bronx Supreme Court Thursday when a judge felt the terms were too light.

Alejandro Espada, 30, is accused of pushing 75-year-old City Hall blogger Rafael Martinez-Alequin and breaking his video camera after Martinez-Alequin peppered Sen. Espada with questions during a campaign rally on Sept. 7, 2008.

Thursday, prosecutors and Robert Laureano, Alejandro Espada's attorney, attempted to enter a deal in which Espada would admit to a harassment violation, not the criminal mischief misdemeanor count he has been charged with.

In return, he would pay $432 for MartinezAlequin's camera and agree to a limited order of protection to prevent him from assaulting Martinez-Alequin again.

Laureano also asked that the case be sealed because Alejandro Espada is "a young man who has not been in trouble with the law."

Alejandro Espada works for his father as a site director at the Diallo Medical Center, one of the clinics that is a part of the elder Espada's Soundview Health Center, according to the organization's Web site.

Judge Joseph Dawson found the terms of the deal unacceptable, and insinuated that prosecutors were giving in too much.

"[Martinez-Alequin] alleges the defendant touched the camera," said Assistant District Attorney Michael Fraggetta.

"Touched the camera?" Dawson asked sarcastically.

"Breaks the camera," Fraggetta said.

"If this guy is going to admit to touching or shoving a 75-year-old man," Dawson said, "I cannot understand why there would not be a full order of protection request."

He also asked why he should seal the case, which is not standard practice.

The judge's questioning led to the deal falling through and a continuation of the case until July 27.

Laureano, Espada's attorney, said he is prepared to take the case to trial if need be, calling Martinez-Alequin's video of the attack "meaningless" and saying it it "shows zero."

But Martinez-Alequin, who has been a City Hall gadfly for more than 20 years, said he feared for his life that day as a large group of people surrounded him.

Sen. Pedro Espada can be heard saying, "He's trying to teach you manners, Papa," on the video as his son allegedly assaulted Martinez-Alequin.

Martinez-Alequin said he was not happy with Thursday's proposed deal, but grudgingly accepted it because there is a "hierarchy" in the Bronx district attorney's office and he understands the case is political.

"I'm not happy about it because there are issues other than a few dollars for a camera," he said.

"The questions I was asking when it happened were, 'Where is his residence? Where is his campaign funds?' They abuse the public's trust."dblock@nydailynews.com

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