By Carla Zanoni and Jeff Mays
NEW YORK — Bronx State Assemblyman Nelson Castro was expected to resign his office Thursday after a year-long cooperation with feds that helped bring down State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, sources said.
Castro, 42, who represents University Heights, Tremont and Fordham, allegedly worked with the US Attorney's office for more than a year, cozying up to a group of businessmen who wanted to open and run adult daycare offices in the Bronx, according to a complaint by the US Attorneys office.
He previously worked as a chief of staff for State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, and won his seat without the support of the Bronx political machine, before working with feds to infiltrate the tight-knit team, Igor Belyansky, Rostislav "Slava" Belyansky, Igor Tsimerman and David Binman, by promising to steer them toward political help in keeping their competition at bay.
He won the confidence of one of their associates, who was not named in the criminal complaint, helping turn him into the "Cooperating Witness", or CW, for the feds, who helped bring Stevenson down.
In exchange for his cooperation with the feds, Castro's felony charges in state court in the Bronx, which were not revealed, will be dropped, according to the complaint. But he will have to resign as part of the non-prosecution deal, according to the complaint.
Castro, who claimed to be the first Dominican to be elected to public office in the borough, was considered a rising star in the Bronx, according to a political operative who asked not to be named.
"He's young, he's full of energy and he was trying to be the face of the Dominican community in the Bronx," said the source.
"He was not politically backed but once he won he said: 'I'm here,' and they worked with him. He pushed his way in by huffing and puffing but maybe he puffed too much," said the source.
Castro made immigration issues one of his focuses, and was the Chair of the Assembly Task Force on New Americans.
Sources familiar with Castro when he worked in Washington Heights and Inwood said they were surprised to hear of the corruption allegations and said he was “scandalous than corrupt.”
"He was like a playboy. He talked a lot with the ladies but I'm shocked to hear anything about corruption," the source said. "He's a young guy who gets in well with the ladies. I had no idea he would go that way."
The move comes as a blow to Espaillat, who is planning to run again for the congressional seat he lost in a close election to Charles Rangel in 2012.
"That's bad for him and bad for Adriano," said the source. "He loses a Dominican in the Bronx that would support him for his run for congress. Now you can't anticipate who they would put in that seat. Adriano is losing a strong ally in the Bronx."
Castro touted his humble beginnings, saying that he lived in a “humble apartment in the West Bronx” when he emigrated from the Dominican Republic as he “where it became evident that he had a calling to become a servant of the people.”
He was then elected to the Assembly in 2008, making him the first Dominican American elected to public office in the Bronx.