Ex-Congressman Leaves Prison After Conviction Is Overturned

From Associated Press

Former Rep. Robert Garcia was released from a federal prison in Florida on Saturday, a day after his extortion conviction was overturned, his wife's attorney said.

Garcia was released from the prison at Eglin Air Force Base, outside Pensacola, Fla., attorney Ronald Fischetti said.

Garcia and his wife, Janie Lee, were expected to rest for a while in Florida, where Mrs. Garcia has relatives, Fischetti said. He said he did not know when they might return to New York.

The Garcias, tried together, were found guilty in October of extorting $76,000 in payoffs and a $20,000 interest-free loan from Wedtech Corp., the now-defunct South Bronx defense contractor.

"We are exuberantly happy that the court has reversed our convictions," the Garcias said in a statement Friday. "We never lost faith in the justice system or in God and face the future with renewed hope and confidence."

The Garcias were each sentenced to three years in prison, but Judge Leonard B. Sand had ordered that they be eligible for parole after six months.

The appeals court sent the case back to Sand for "further proceedings," which could include a new trial.

Garcia, 56, who was the former chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Coalition, was serving his sixth term in office when he resigned.

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