He desires to go from a prison jumpsuit to judicial robes.
An ex-con who peddled heroin and used much more than 10 several years in prison for tried murder and armed robbery claims he has turned his lifestyle all over to develop into a attorney — and is now running to be a Civil Court decide in the Bronx.
“Only in The us is this achievable. I’ve long gone from general public enemy to community winner,” Angel Cruz, 56, explained to The Write-up.
Cruz is making use of his sordid past as component of his campaign for a judgeship, admitting he did erroneous when developing up in Kingsbridge all through the turbulent “The Bronx Is Burning Days” of the 1970s and early 1980s. He even mentions his legal past in a campaign movie.
Cruz claims he was a juvenile delinquent as a young teen, receiving arrested for burglary as a 13-calendar year-aged, and once more in 1981 for chain snatching.
He was busted and convicted for tried murder during a theft in 1982 — at the age of 17.
“I experienced a gun. Shots ended up fired,” he stated, while he insists it was an accomplice who fired shots and no just one was damage.
But upon his release in 1988 just after serving time, Cruz returned to a existence of crime — and was busted once more at 22 and convicted for armed robbery in a dispute over a heroin sale in Brooklyn.
Cruz was sentenced to eight to 16 decades right after a jury demo. But when incarcerated, Cruz hit the jail library, believing the prosecution railroaded him. He turned his have lawful advocate.
“The prison library became my church,” he stated.
Cruz, with guidance of a public defender, represented himself when he appealed his conviction. The Appellate Division tossed out the scenario and kicked it again to the trial decide for resentencing.
He credits then-Brooklyn Decide Cesar Quinones for cutting his sentence to 5 yrs or time served at his hearing. Quinones died in 2018.
“I requested Judge Quinones if he had sufficient courage to give me an chance. You’re chatting about a twice-convicted felon who’s been in the criminal justice program considering the fact that the age of 12,” Cruz explained.
“In the conclusion, Judge Quinones exercised grace. The choose paid my credit card debt to the satan. Right after that, I belonged to God. From that second, I modified my lifestyle,” Cruz stated.
Immediately after graduating from John Jay University and CUNY Law Faculty, Cruz clerked for judges, did authorized do the job for the Bronx borough president’s office environment and now has his very own legislation apply.
But initially, his criminal past was nevertheless a hindrance. After passing the bar examination, Cruz utilized for his legislation license with the Appellate Division, which rules on irrespective of whether a citizen has the “character” to observe law. The courtroom turned down Cruz’s first bid, but gave him the inexperienced gentle when he reapplied.
He lately represented fellow ex-con and previous Councilman Hiram Monserrate, unsuccessfully complicated a regulation permitted by the Metropolis Council that bars folks like Monserrate convicted of community corruption crimes from functioning for public place of work.
Cruz, who now resides in Throggs Neck, also obtained married and now has 3 children.
His spouse, Lumarie Maldonado Cruz, was elected to a Queens judgeship in 2019, defeating the Queens Democratic Party’s hand-picked candidate.
Last 12 months, Cruz misplaced when he ran for a condition Assembly seat in Queens.
Cruz has been endorsed by Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the previous Bronx Democratic Bash chairman, and Councilman Fernando Cabrera, a candidate for Bronx borough president.
“Angel has done his time. He he has redeemed himself. He has very little to be ashamed of and a lot to be proud of. I’m happy of his candidacy,” claimed Rivera, who observed that Cruz offered lawful guidance when he headed the Bronx Democratic Bash.
“Angel will be a fair decide. He won’t be managed by everyone,” Rivera said.
Cruz pointed out that he could wind up staying moved on to criminal scenarios if elected, but insisted he will be a honest-minded choose and not a softie, allow-em-free jurist even with his past.
“I suspect I will listen to legal scenarios. The to start with obligation is to general public protection. Punishment is required. But we will have to evaluate that with grace,” he stated.
The point out Board of Elections explained it had no history of Cruz submitting paperwork for his candidacy. His campaign explained it is submitting paperwork.
Other candidates for Civil Court Decide in the Bronx’s 2nd Municipal District include lawyers Jessica Flores, who is backed by the Bronx Democratic Bash John Rodriguez Verena Powell, who has labored in the mayor’s workplace of prison justice and Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor.