Friday, May 11, 2012

Pedro Espada's supporters wore red to ward off ‘evil powers’

On 10th day of deliberations, disgraced state senator’s posse makes sartorial statement


Ex-State Senator Pedro Espada and his supporters -- all dressed in red --  leaves Federal Court in Brooklyn for a lunch break.

Anthony Lanzilote 

Ex-State Senator Pedro Espada and his supporters -- all dressed in red -- leaves Federal Court in Brooklyn for a lunch break.

Pedro Espada had prosecutors seeing red Friday as both sides waited for the jury to deliver a verdict in the former state senator’s corruption trial.
Espada’s wife and other supporters showed up in Brooklyn Federal Court dressed in red to ward off the “evil powers” of the government.
“Red is the color of protection and it also opens up pathways of justice,” said Monica Harris, a self-described “spiritualist” and former Espada staffer who wore a red dress with matching pumps.
Espada’s wife, Connie, wore a red shawl. And Espada’s hulking bodyguard was a vision in a red suit.
The display of crimson clothing aimed at thwarting the feds’ attempts to jail Espada and his son for stealing $600,000 from a family-run health center came as the jury deliberated for a 10th day.
It was Espada’s second bizarre attempt in two days to harness the mojo needed to avoid being sent to jail for 10 years.
On Thursday, Espada waved rosary beads and invoked his Roman Catholic faith. He also insisted prosecutors were trying to rattle jurors sympathetic to him by occupying their seats in the jury box while they were deliberating elsewhere — and by wearing certain kinds of jewelry.
Espada and his son are charged in an eight-count indictment with embezzling money from Soundview Health Center to splurge on everything from lobster dinners and beach getaways to home improvements.
The former state Senate majority leader denied stealing any money and insisted he was the victim of a political vendetta — and his own ignorance about accounting.
Espada did not testify. Instead, defense lawyer Susan Necheles painted Espada as a rags-to-riches success story brought low by political rivals.
“So what if a kid who grew up homeless and in projects, worked hard all his life and supported his family, so what if he wanted to live the good life," Necheles argued in her closing statement.
“If you could do it on Wall Street with your own money, you can do it in the Bronx too. It's not a crime to want to do well in America.”
The judge barred Team Espada from raising the theory that he was targeted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The investigation that led to the Espadas’ indictment in 2010 was jointly conducted by the then-state Attorney General Cuomo's office and the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney.
The feds said the Espadas knew exactly what they were doing and stacked Soundview’s board with family members and cronies who would not object.
“Pedro Espada's attitude was, ‘I own Soundview, I built Soundview, I am Soundview, if I want to take from Soundview, who's going to stop me?’” Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Kaminsky told the jury.
Kaminsky said that while Espada was living the high life, Soundview patients were being short-changed on services, workers weren’t getting paid, and neither were vendors.
jmarzulli@nydailynews.com
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