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Deadlocked Jury May Lead to Mistrial in Espada Corruption Case

Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Pedro Espada talks to reporters outside the courthouse on Monday. (Bob Hennelly/WNYC)

The jury in the federal corruption trial of former New York State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. will head back to court Thursday for one last try at reaching an agreement on any of the charges facing Espada and his son, Pedro G. Espada. The jurors sent a note to the judge on Wednesday saying they "could not arrive at a unanimous decision concerning the defendants."

Federal Judge Frederic Block gathered the jury, which had been deliberating for eight day, in the courtroom and issued an "Allen Charge" — a set of instructions to the jury to deliberate a final time, to try and reach a unanimous verdict. He told them that could mean deciding some counts but not others.

"It doesn't have to be all or none," Block told them on Wednesday.

He also asked them to continue considering all evidence and examining their own beliefs, and he said there's no reason to expect a future jury could do any better than the current one at coming to a conclusion.

The Espadas are accused of siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars from a charitable health clinic for personal gain.

The trial has lasted seven weeks. A hung jury could lead to the declaration of a mistrial and re-trying the case.

Outside the courthouse, Espada attorney Susan Necheles said it's clear that some jurors feel that her client is not guilty and that the jury is deadlocked.

"We think the judge gave a fair charge to people telling them to stick with their beliefs, and if they're unable to decide, at that point, the judge will declare a mistrial. That's what we expect to happen," she said.

Espada admitted the trial is not yet officially over and the fact that the jurors are in disagreement is not new. "Obviously, notes had been proffered from them. So, this doesn't come as a surprise," he said. "And so we must respect where they're at at every moment, and at this moment their work is not completed."

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