The specter of a mistrial looms in the juicy embezzlement trial of disgraced ex-State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., who's accused of funneling taxpayer dollars into a non-profit health clinic he operates, and then using clinic funds to finance a lavish lifestyle in Westchester. During three days of deliberations, the juries sent multiple notes to the judge reporting extreme consternation among the jurors, and at one point judge Frederic Block told the courtroom, "There seems to be some turbulence or screaming and stuff like that in the jury room." Hey wait a minute, Pedro's not supposed to be in there!
Today the judge is expected to meet with one juror who has allegedly stopped talking to the other jurors because his mind is made up. The Times reports that rules allow for a juror to be dismissed if he or she refuses to deliberate at all, but yesterday Judge Block said that it could be grounds for a mistrial if the juror has stopped deliberating because his or her mind is made up. One note to the judge read, "After 5 or 10 minutes from Day 1 of deliberations, one of the jurors refused to be open to deliberations and announced that the juror’s mind was made."
Espada took the opportunity to hold a press conference outside the Federal courtroom yesterday. Demonstrating his signature Manichean flare, Espada blamed his troubles on his familiar arch-nemesis, Andrew Cuomo, whom he's previously described as a "Prince of Darkness" who has a "personal obsession to take on and dominate my world and my manhood." Now Espada insists his Soundview Health Clinic is out of money because Cuomo has forced the state Health Department to cut off funding as part of a “coordinated attack."
Soundview is reportedly on the brink of closure—doctors and nurses have not received their last two paychecks, and the clinic has stopped treating patients. And one wonders how Cuomo sleeps at night knowing Espada has to pay for sushi out of his own pocket! "Cuomo's worse than 'The Steamroller' [former Governor Eliot Spitzer]," Espada told reporters yesterday. "He has no moral compass. He operates in the shadows, he never comes out." Espada, to his credit, operates right out in the open.