He desires to go from a jail jumpsuit to judicial robes.
An ex-con who peddled heroin and spent greater than 10 years years in jail for tried homicide and armed theft says he has turned his life round to turn out to be a lawyer — and is now running to be a Civil Court judge in The Bronx.
“Only in America is this possible. I’ve gone from public enemy to public champion,” Angel Cruz, 56, advised The Post.
Cruz is utilizing his sordid previous as a part of his marketing campaign for judgeship, admitting he did improper whereas rising up in Kingsbridge throughout the turbulent “The Bronx is Burning Days” of the Nineteen Seventies and early Eighties. He even mentions his felony previous in a campaign video.
Cruz says he was a juvenile delinquent as a younger teen, getting arrested for housebreaking as a 13-year-old, and once more in 1981 for chain snatching.
He was busted and convicted for tried homicide throughout a theft in 1982 — at the age of 17.
“I had a gun. Shots were fired,” he stated, although insists it was an confederate who fired photographs and nobody was damage.
But upon his launch in 1988 after serving time, Cruz returned to a lifetime of crime — and was busted once more at 22 and convicted for armed theft in a dispute over a heroin sale in Brooklyn.
Cruz was sentenced to eight to 16 years after a jury trial. But whereas incarcerated, Cruz hit the jail library, believing the prosecution railroaded him. He grew to become his personal authorized advocate.
“The prison library became my church,” he stated.
Cruz, with help of a public defender, represented himself when he appealed his conviction. The Appellate Division tossed out the case and kicked it again to the trial judge for resentencing.
He credit then-Brooklyn Judge Cesar Quinones for chopping his sentence to 5 years or time served at his listening to. Quinones died in 2018.
“I asked Judge Quinones if he had enough courage to give me an opportunity. You’re talking about a twice-convicted felon who’s been in the criminal justice system since the age of 12,” Cruz stated.
“In the end Judge Quinones exercised grace. The judge paid my debt to the devil. After that, I belonged to God. From that moment, I changed my life,” Cruz stated.
After graduating from John Jay College and CUNY Law School, Cruz clerked for judges, did authorized work for the Bronx borough president’s workplace and now has his personal regulation follow.
But initially, his felony previous was nonetheless a hindrance. After passing the bar examination, Cruz utilized for his regulation license with the Appellate Division, which guidelines on whether or not a citizen has the “character” to follow regulation. The court docket first rejected Cruz’s his first bid, however gave him the inexperienced mild when he reapplied.
He not too long ago represented fellow ex-con and former Councilman Hiram Monserrate, unsuccessfully difficult a regulation accredited by the City Council that bars individuals like Monserrate convicted of public corruption crimes from running for public workplace.
Cruz, who now resides in Throggs Neck, additionally acquired married and now has three youngsters.
His spouse, Lumarie Maldonado Cruz, was elected to a Queens judgeship in 2019, defeating the Queens Democratic Party’s hand-picked candidate.
Last yr, Cruz misplaced when he ran for a state Assembly seat in Queens.
Cruz has been endorsed by Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the former Bronx Democratic Party chairman and Councilman Fernando Cabrera, a candidate for Bronx borough president.
“Angel has done his time. He he has redeemed himself. He has nothing to be ashamed of and a lot to be proud of. I’m proud of his candidacy,” stated Rivera, who famous that Cruz offered authorized help when he headed the Bronx Democratic Party.
“Angel will be a fair judge. He won’t be controlled by anyone,” Rivera stated.
Cruz famous that he might wind up being moved onto felony circumstances if elected, however insisted he’ll be a fair-minded judge and never a softie, let-em-loose jurist regardless of his previous.
“I suspect I will hear criminal cases. The first obligation is to public safety. Punishment is necessary. But we must measure that with grace,” he stated.
The state Board of Elections stated it had no report of Cruz submitting paperwork for his candidacy. His marketing campaign stated it’s submitting paperwork.
Other candidates for Civil Court Judge in the Bronx’s 2nd Municipal District embrace legal professionals Jessica Flores, who’s backed by the Bronx Democratic Party; John Rodriguez, Veronica Powell, has works in the mayor’s workplace of felony justice and Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor.