The Brooklyn jury in former State Senator Pedro Espada's fraud trial is having trouble reaching a verdict, as the jurors alerted the judge in a note Wednesday that one of them has refused to participate in deliberations. Grace Rauh reports.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- There is trouble in the jury room. The men and women weighing the fate of former state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. seem to be at an impasse. In a note to the judge, they said one juror is refusing to be open to deliberations and has made up his or her mind. The news - on day three of deliberations - capped off a dramatic day in federal court.
Espada is accused of stealing more than half a million dollars from the health care clinics he ran in the Bronx. But he went after Governor Andrew Cuomo saying he is to blame for the clinic's recent struggles.
Espada said, "Not good when one man is in charge. He's worse than the steamroller. He has no moral compass, Mr. Cuomo does. He operates in the shadows. He never comes out, as I am here with you."
The Soundview Health Care Network depends on federal and state funding to operate. In the wake of Espada's legal troubles, the money dried up and Soundview now appears to be on life support.
Soundview patient Ray Gonzalez said, "I don't really follow the politics like that. I don't know what's going on. All I know is we need this here, man. This is something for the community."
Espada said the governor has told the state Department of Health to stop funding the clinics. He said he has had to lay off about 100 employees in the last six weeks. The clinic serves about 20,000 patients.
"The criminal activity is when people - like the governor, and his commissioner of the Department of Health and others in the HMO industry - get together and say, don't pay Soundview. People may die as a result of their actions," Espada said.
A spokesman for the governor said in a statement, "Out of respect for the jury process, we will have no comment while this federal criminal matter is pending."
As for the jury problems, the judge is expected to address the issue on Thursday. Espada faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.