A tense jury continues to deliberate in the corruption trial of former state Senator Pedro Espada Jr. who is accused of siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars from a charitable health clinic for his personal gain.
After five days of deliberation, reports have emerged from the jury room of cursing, screaming and name-calling. On Friday, federal Judge Frederic Block met privately with one juror who sent a note to the courtroom characterizing deliberations as "hostile."
Block then recalled the full jury to the courtroom for further guidance. He praised them for working thoroughly and meticulously, and said it is natural for a case with several weeks of testimony to need many days of jury deliberation.
"Be passionate. Express your views by all means," he said. "But try to do it in a civilized manner and avoid cursing."
Espada and his son Pedro Gautier Espada have been charged with fraud and embezzlement. They allegedly used the nonprofit clinics to fund a lavish lifestyle, spending more than $500,000 intended for the network and its patients.
Speaking outside the courthouse, Espada said he was concerned by a dispatch one juror sent to the judge complaining of bullying and intransigence by fellow jurors.
"Clearly there's a lot of tension," he said. "I think the most important thing to say about what happened is I have the utmost respect for the jurors."