A San Jose man accused of trying to sell more than half a ton of illegal fireworks was set to face a judge Monday.
Mark Espinoza, 49, has always said he was doing it to try to raise money to help build a public park in Alviso.
His case has stalled in court, but it appears the long-awaited park project is a go.
“That’s fantastic. Fabulous for a lot of people. We walk every morning, especially seniors here, walking a lot,” said Lina Burciaga of Alviso. “So that’d be perfect for people like me walking my dog every day.”
One community activist is Espinoza, who got into a brief legal fight with the city for working on the lot without permits.
But when he was arrested for trying to sell about 1,000 pounds of illegal fireworks around Fourth of July, he said he was doing it to raise money for the park project.
On Monday, he’s sticking to that story.
“I don’t think that’s the right way to do it but I didn’t, for me, I felt that was the only way to do it. I had to engage in selling illegal fireworks,” said Espinoza.
That got him put in jail on $1 million bail, which a judge later dropped.
In court Monday, his public defender wanted more time to review the evidence so he did not enter a plea.
Some other community members involved in the park project are reluctant to give Espinoza credit, citing his past arrest and conviction for selling illegal fireworks in 2017 and call the park construction a “happy coincidence.”
The city parks department confirmed the project, calling this phase “improvements” to the undeveloped area of the existing park that will include new concrete pathways, trees, a pollinator garden, and fitness equipment.
“I’m hoping this is the result of my efforts that we’re getting some improvements here which we see today,” said Espinoza.
It’s hard to say if the public park project will have any influence on Espinoza’s court case that resumes on Dec. 4.
Source: NBC Bay Area