Friday, April 18, 2014

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Espada Jurors End Week With No Verdict

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Jurors in the embezzlement trial of former State Senate majority leader Pedro Espada Jr. and his son ended day 10 of deliberations Friday with no verdict.

At one point, jurors sent a note to the judge asking if they could hand in a partial verdict and continue deliberations on the other counts. However, it was later clarified that they were only asking if that would be possible, not that they had in fact reached one.

On Thursday, the panel passed a note to the judge asking if they could find one of the defendants guilty but not the other.

They also asked to see some of the evidence presented during the trial.

Before discharging them for the weekend, the judge told jurors to get some rest and reminded them that they are still under the jurisdiction of the court and to not get input on the case from any outside sources, including media reports.

"We are very confident all the way through of an innocent verdict, but we want people to know that they can decide this as the judge has instructed and that they can decide to not decide," Espada said. "That really is their decision. We hope for clarity."

Supporters of the two men were seen wearing red articles of clothing while in the courtroom Friday.

According to one of Espada's friends, red is the color of protection and allows pathways to open.

The former state lawmaker has accused federal prosecutors and FBI agents of attempting to sway the outcome of the case by sitting in the jury box while panel members deliberate outside the courtroom.

Espada Jr. says they are sitting in seats that are normally occupied by jurors they think are sympathetic to him and his son.

"God knows what they're trying to signal, but the fact that they know that those jurors are aligned with us is of some concern because they're not supposed to know that," he said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District declined to comment.

Espada Jr. and his son, Pedro G. Espada, are accused of stealing half a million dollars from the Soundview Health Care Clinic he founded in the Bronx.

Espada Jr. has maintained he had permission to use clinic money for personal expenses.

If convicted, both men face up to 15 years in prison.

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