A judge has rejected a former New York state senator’s effort to withdraw his guilty plea to federal fraud charges.
The federal judge said Thursday that Efrain Gonzalez Jr.’s attempt to change his plea to charges he used charity groups to finance his lifestyle with $600,000 in stolen money was an effort to undermine the integrity of the judicial process.
Judge William Pauley says the notion the free will of a longtime state senator was overridden by the imminence of trial, coercion by his attorney or pressure from the court is “preposterous.”
Born in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Gonzalez’s family moved to the United States shortly thereafter. The 61-year-old Gonzalez was a high-ranking Bronx Democrat when he was charged in the summer of 2006. He could receive seven to nine years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.
According to the indictment, Gonzalez is accused of defrauding the West Bronx Neighborhood Association Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, by using funds donated to the organization in order to pay for over $37,000 in personal expenses. In December 2006, in a new Federal indictment that replaced the August indictment, he was charged with diverting over $400,000 meant for the community not-for-profit to personal expenses, including vacation homes in the Dominican Republic, homes for his wife, mistress, renovations to his mother-in-law’s home, Yankees tickets and college tuition for his daughter. He was defeated on September 9th, 2008 in the Democratic Party primary by Pedro Espada, another highly controversial opportunist, who himeself is investigated for anything from election races fines to actually not residing in his district, Bedford Park.