One-time state Senate power broker Pedro Espada on Thursday accused an FBI agent of using "evil spiritual powers" against him as jurors in his federal corruption case completed their ninth day of deliberations without a verdict.
Espada's unexpected charge came outside Brooklyn federal court, when reporters asked why he was wearing a rosary with a large crucifix in the courtroom.
He said it was a response to the dress and jewelry of an FBI agent and a "seating arrangement" she orchestrated while the prosecution team was killing time in the jury box during deliberations.
"We Catholics counter whatever evil spiritual powers that others think they have with the powers of the good lord Jesus Christ," he said, displaying his cross. "It's a certain ritual that we Catholics counter with this."
He refused to specify the forces he was countering, but said, "She wears different jewelry. It's symbolic in nature. . . . Ask Agent Mendoza tomorrow. She'll tell you all about it."
He was equally mysterious about the seating, but urged reporters to watch. "If you notice the way they sit, it's not an accident," he said. "There's a certain ritual."
A spokesman for the prosecutors and FBI agent declined to comment.
Espada and his son are charged with looting the nonprofit Soundview health center in the Bronx, which the former state senator founded. Jurors Thursday asked if they could return a verdict on one defendant while remaining split on the other.
Earlier in the trial, Espada read a Bible while the jury was in the courtroom. He and his lawyer have used streetside news conferences to urge holdout jurors to stand firm and to describe helpful evidence. Prosecutors have complained that they may influence jurors.