New Legal Woe for Espada: Don't Mess With Raffie!
That rascally state senate rebel Democrat-turned-GOP hugger Pedro Espada Jr. can add one more investigation to the list of probes he's already fending off. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson yesterday subpoenaed video tape from a push and shove match last year between one of Espada's sons and longtime Bronx journalist Rafael Martinez-Alequin.
Raffie, as he's universally known, is the scrappy white-haired on-line reporter whose pesky questions have long bedeviled the likes of Mayor Bloomberg (who stopped answering Martinez a couple years ago). Last September, Martinez was doing a little moonlighting (everyone needs to make a living) for incumbent state senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr. against a tough (and successful) challenge from Espada.
Raffie was videotaping an Espada street rally when he got into a tussle with several of the candidate's supporters including Espada's son Alejandro. The offending video camera got smashed in the process, resulting in a criminal complaint filed with the police.
Like the diligent blogger he is, Raffie filed this post on his way to the hospital...
"With little provocation, I was surrounded by Espada and his handlers after he consented to speak with me. Within minutes, I was assaulted. Espada never attempted to stop the assault. You will hear him state "This is to teach you manners Papa." They broke my camera and they tried to break me. I write this as I am en route to the hospital. If this is an indication of who will lead the 33rd district, it is wrong. Simply put, we do not need a thug to govern us."
Raffie also posted a remarkable piece of video preceding the camera-smashing in which Espada is seen atop a music-blaring truck filled with supporters as he tells residents of Amalgamated Houses through a bullhorn that "Change is coming! Obama is coming, Espada is coming!" The man who bolted to the Republican side last week can also be heard crowing, ""It's time for a real Democrat!"
Gonazalez was at the time facing trial on federal embezzlement charges which included routing state money to a cigar company in the Dominican Republic (he later pleaded guilty) and Espada, a feisty ex-boxer, leans directly into Martinez's camera as he takes a few fair jabs at that record: "We need the money here not in Santo Domingo."
Moments later Espada steps down from the truck, approaching Martinez. Someone off camera is heard saying, "I don't know why you make peace with an awful Democrat," an apparent reference to Raffie's alliance with Gonzalez.
Martinez is then heard yelling "No! Don't do that!" Espada Jr., looming large on-camera points his finger at the lens and clearly says something slightly different than Raffie's post: "He's trying to teach you manners, Papa, he's trying to teach you manners." As candidate Espada walks away, the camera image suddenly shoots into the trees above to the sound of Martinez yelling "No, it's illegal, hey! Pedro!" and "Let it go!" in Spanish. In the background Espada has picked up his bullhorn again saying, "Gonzalez is running scared! He's desperate, you all know..." Raffies shouts "Hey!" one more time, as the camera image freezes and goes dark.
The criminal charge is still pending. Records show Alejandro Espada faces a court date on the matter on June 25.
D.A. Johnson is already probing questions about Espada's residency, along with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who is eyeing Espada's use of money at his Soundview Healthcare empire as well as his strange $2.2 million request for member items this year.
When the D.A. is done with Raffie's video clip, we suggest it be donated to the Bronx Museum for an exhibit that could be titled simply, "Bronx Politics, Late summer, 2008."