Former New York state Senate majority leader Pedro Espada Jr. was convicted of swindling nearly $500,000 from the taxpayer-funded Bronx health clinic he founded to finance his lavish lifestyle.
A Brooklyn federal court panel on Monday convicted Espada of four counts of stealing from the nonprofit Soundview Healthcare Network between 2005 and 2008.
Anita Coleman, Juror No. 5, said, "We knew he was guilty. It was clear from the evidence. The prosecution laid it out beautifully for us."
Espada faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each count he was convicted of, but sentencing guidelines suggest a range of between six and seven years, prosecutors said.
He may also have to forfeit an amount of money equal to what he stole.
The disgraced politician was silent as he left the Downtown Brooklyn courthouse.
Looking ashen, and surrounded by a phalanx of burly bodyguards, he stepped into a waiting Cadillac SUV and sped off. One of his other sons blew kisses at reporters as he helped Espada's wife, Connie, into the car.
The feds proved that Espada routinely charged up Soundview's American Express card to pay for lavish personal expenses that he fraudulently claimed to be legitimate business expenses.
But jurors -- who gave Judge Frederic Block their initial verdicts on Espada earlier in the day -- three hours later told him they were deadlocked on four other charges against him.
They also said they were hopelessly deadlocked on the eight identical criminal charges facing his son Pedro Gautier Espada, who was accused of the same scheme at Soundview and a private cleaning company he ran.
After the verdict, jurors revealed that on the first day of deliberations there was a 9-3 vote in favor of convicting Espada -- and that the three "not-guilty" jurors stubbornly refused to either explain their rationale or deliberate meaningfully for days.
The pro-conviction jurors said there was finally movement toward a conviction late last week after Block told the jurors they could issue a split verdict.
Among the damning evidence were receipts showing that Espada, on Soundview's credit card, had charged $20,072.15 for meals at Toyo Sushi in Mamaroneck between 2005 and 2009.
He spent another $3,070 of Soundview's funds for a relative's birthday party that included a pony and someone dressed up as the children's character Barney the dinosaur — and $230 on Dom Perignon champagne at Yonkers Raceway.
Prosecutors have two weeks to tell Block whether they will re-try the father and son on those charges. They also face a tax-fraud trial in Manhattan federal court.
Brooklyn US Attorney Loretta Lynch, whose office prosecuted the case, said, "Pedro Espada Jr. embezzled funds to finance his personal lifestyle and lavish gifts on friends and family members at the expense of taxpayers and underprivileged members of the Bronx community who were deprived of needed health services and medical equipment."
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