Bronx state Senator Ruben Diaz Sr, who, with Pedro Espada formed the “Four Amigos” soon after Democrats retook the majority in 2008, said today that he feels sorry for his friend, who is now facing possible jail time after Attorney General Andrew Cuomo handed a six count indictment accusing him of siphoning off funds from the health clinic he operates.
“This is a very sad day,” Diaz said. “My church, myself and my ministers will be praying for him and his family.”
Diaz is an ordained minister and head of the Christian Community Benevolent Association.
Diaz said he spoke to Espada two days ago while Espada was in Florida. In 2008, Diaz, along with Espada, Queens state Senator Hiram Monserrate and Brooklyn state Senator Carl Kruger refused to say they would support the newly-elected Democratic majority, ostensibly because there were not enough Hispanics in leadership positions. Later, Espada and Monserrate swung their support to the Republican, throwing state government into chaos. The stand-off was only resolved when Espada was given a leadership position within the Democratic caucus.
Now, Monserrate has been defeated after getting kicked out of the Senate for beating up his girlfriend, Espada is due to be arraigned in a federal court house, and Kruger is also facing federal charges.
Diaz said he had no regrets.
“I don’t regret the alliance. We achieved something. Never in history has the Hispanic community gotten what we got in the Senate,” he said. “We had the chairmanship of the Housing committee [Espada], we had the chairmanship of the Aging committee [Diaz], we had the chairmanship of the Transportation Committee [Sen. Martin Dilan], we had the chairmanship of Consumer Affairs [Monserrate], and we had the majority leader [Espada.]“
“What we got was this revolution in the Hispanic community,” he added. “I am proud of what we accomplished.”
And Diaz took a few swipes at Cuomo. Last April, Cuomo filed civil charges against Espada claiming that he looted $14 million from Soundview, the network of health clinics that he runs. The indictment accused them of stealing $500,000.
“Cuomo said he stole $14 million, and now suddenly it’s a half-million. What happened?”
Cuomo said in a conference call yesterday that the discrepancy was because of Cuomo’s civil jurisdiction over charities under New York state law.
And Diaz hit the pro-gay marriage groups who targeted both Espada and Monserrate, and drummed them out of the state Senate in the September primaries.
“The gay community and other communities say we got rid of Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate because they opposed gay marriage. That is not it. Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada took themselves out. Mickey Mouse could have beaten them.”
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