Nelson Castro and Victor Pichardo have a few things in common. They’re both ambitious, Dominican-American and hand-picked candidates of the Bronx Democratic machine.
But Mr. Pichardo, 28, is hoping to traverse a very different path than Mr. Castro, the fallen former Bronx assemblyman revealed in April to have been a wired-up informant for almost his entire Albany tenure.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is not happy about the barrage of corruption charges hitting various New York lawmakers throughout the week, including State Senator Malcolm Smith, City Councilman Dan Halloran and Assemblyman Eric Stevenson. Accordingly, Mr. Cuomo released a statement this afternoon detailing his disgust.
As expected, Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who wore a wire to help indict his colleague, Eric Stevenson, announced his resignation today. Stepping down from office, in addition to cooperating with federal authorities, were steps he took in order to avoid prosecution himself.
“Today I announce that I am resigning my seat in the New York State Assembly, effective Monday, April 8, 2013,” Mr. Castro said in the statement, which can be viewed in full below. “On July 31, 2009, I was indicted by a Bronx County Grand Jury for committing perjury in a 2008 civil matter, held prior to my election to the Assembly. I appreciate the seriousness of my misconduct. Thereafter, I agreed to cooperate with …. various investigations aimed at rooting out public corruption.”
Two days ago, when U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said New York State corruption cases were beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day, he was rather prescient. This afternoon, Mr. Bharara unsealed charges against Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, making him the third New York City lawmaker to be charged with corruption this week. Additionally, another Bronx Assemblyman, Nelson Castro, was the cooperating witness in the latest case and will resign today.
“So here we go again,” Mr. Bharara began. “This has become something of a habit. For the second time in three days, we unsealed criminal charges against a sitting member of the State Legislature. And based on what is alleged in this complaint, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid the sad conclusion that political corruption in New York is indeed rampant and that the ‘show me the money’ culture in Albany is alive and well.”
Assemblyman Nelson Castro sent out a statement yesterday evening urging fellow legislators to support his bill to allow the use of public school buildings for religious meetings and worship. As of February 12, religious organizations will be barred from using school property in New York City. Mr. Castro, who represents the 86th District in The Bronx, described this decision as “discriminatory.”
This afternoon, Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera will be marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Department of Education to reverse the upcoming ban on religious institutions using public school buildings on weekends for meetings and worship.