Jurors deadlocked in Espada's embezzlement trial
Last Updated: 3:34 PM, May 9, 2012
Posted: 3:21 PM, May 9, 2012
Riyad HasanThey're deadlocked!
Jurors in the embezzlement trial of ex-Bronx state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. told a judge today that they cannot reach a unanimous verdict on the charges against Espada and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, in Brooklyn federal court.
"To the honorable Judge Block," the jurors wrote in a note to Judge Frederic Block. "We the jurors have determined after eight days of deliberations cannot arrive at a unanimous decision concerning the defendants Pedro Espada Jr. and Pedro G. Espada."
After receiving the note, Block requested that prosecutors and the Espadas' lawyers assemble in the courtroom, where he is expected to issue a so-called "Allen charge" to the jurors. An Allen charge is a formal statement to jurors urging them to listen to each other and do their best to reach a consensus about the criminal charges.
Espada, the former majority leader of the state Senate, and his son are accused of looting the elder Espada's federally-supported Bronx charity, Soundview Healthcare Network, to the tune of $500,000 by having the non-profit foot their bills for lavish personal expenses that were later claimed to be business-related.
Deliberations in the trial have been acrimonious from the beginning, with several jurors accusing another one of refusing to deliberate literally 10 minutes after the 12-member panel began its work. Block himself has noted that he has heard raised voices from the jury room, and has previously urged jurors to listen to each other respectfully.
Since last week, the jury has given an outward appearance of deliberating, by requesting that various trial exhibits and testimony be made available to them.
But several of those requests have been for evidence related to a narrow issue in the case -- an alleged scheme in which an Espada-controlled cleaning company received rent from Soundview business tenants. Some courtroom observers have speculated that allegations over that scheme were a sticking point for at least one juror, to the frustration of others on the panel.