DemocRat Wears a Wire to Rat out his Fellow Crooked Politicians

You voted 'WTF'.


New York is ruled by a criminal class whose motto is, 'Where's mine?' and whose members expect the answer in cash' -- and top elected leaders are shamefully enabling the rampant corruption. The Bronx state assemblyman's corruption scandal proves politics can sink to new lows, as politicians with rap sheets are allowed to work in Albany just to catch other crooked pols. Nelson Castro worked undercover to expose other corrupt politicians. Nelson Castro, the Bronx state assemblyman at the center of the latest political corruption scandal — the one who wore a wire to rat out his fellow crooked pols — has an amazingly checkered history.

By 2008, Castro had already compiled a record of criminal arrests in two states and had lied in court about voter registration fraud inside his own Bronx apartment.

And that was before he got elected to office.

Bronx Democratic Party leaders anointed Castro in the summer of that year to fill a spot on the Democratic primary ballot for the 86th Assembly District. This was after the incumbent Luis Diaz suddenly resigned to take a job in state government.

Castro was a former staff member for State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and the party bosses were eager to elect a young Dominican politician in the South Bronx, where the Dominican population was growing rapidly.

"We knew Nelson had had some legal troubles before, but no one had any idea at first how bad they were," said one leader who participated in Castro's selection.

Those "troubles" included a 1989 felony arrest in Michigan for larceny.

Michigan court records obtained by the Daily News show that Castro, who was 19 at the time, pled guilty to a misdemeanor conspiracy and was sentenced to 180 days probation.

In 2003, Castro was arrested again in New York, this time for grand larceny. He was accused of pocketing $4,900 in unemployment checks while holding a job. He pled guilty to petty larceny, repaid the money and was slapped with three years probation.

Castro wore a wire for prosecutors to catch crooked politicians doing dirty deals.

Then in March 2008, Castro was arrested a third time — for driving in East Harlem with a revoked license and as a scofflaw who owed more than $3,000 in parking tickets.

By the time the party leaders learned the details of his run-ins with the law, they'd already put him on the ballot.

"It was an embarrassment because no one had vetted him, so everyone decided to ignore it," the former leader admitted. "This guy couldn't be trusted from day one, and lots of people knew it," said Mike Soto, a community leader and reformer who has run unsuccessfully for office in the Bronx several times.

Even more disturbing revelations followed.

That August, Soto ran against Castro and sued in Bronx state Supreme Court to throw him off the ballot. In addition to being the choice of the party bosses for the Assembly, Castro had filed nominating petitions for local district leader, and Soto claimed that Castro and his campaign had orchestrated voter registration fraud.

During the hearing before Special Referee Mary Lynn Dlabola, evidence emerged that 10 people were registered to vote from Castro's one-bedroom apartment at 2269 Hampden Place.

In addition to Castro and his fiancée, the other eight included Castro's cousin, his aunt and uncle, two relatives of his fiancée, and three people who were key figures in the Castro campaign. Most had registered to vote only months before.

But Castro testified in the hearing that he and his fiancée lived alone and that he had no idea all those people were registered there. Asked why so many people were claiming to live in the same tiny apartment, Castro's lawyer claimed at one point that it was a "common practice in the Dominican community for families to take in relatives."

Dlabola, the special referee, called Castro's testimony "incredible in light of the fact that the majority of the individuals registered at this address are close relatives of the candidate, or individuals involved in his campaign."

She noted that he was "evasive" when questioned on the stand.

Castro also told the court he did not know a man who was actually his coordinator of volunteers. That man happened to have 15 other people registered to vote at his home address.

Despite these "egregious irregularities" in voter registration connected to Castro's campaign, Dlabola did not remove him from the ballot for the Assembly seat because he had been handed that spot through a separate process — by the party leaders.

Her conclusions, however, triggered an investigation by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, and that investigation led the following year to a sealed indictment against Castro for perjury. And it was that 2009 indictment that eventually ended in Castro agreeing to become undercover informant and wearing a wire to uncover fellow corrupt politicians.