With Kruger facing corruption charges, the “Gang of Four” is down to one, and Malcolm Smith is still standing

Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada, Hiram Monserrate, and Ruben Diaz Sr. The so-called gang of four.

Few of us may remember it, but for weeks two short years ago, these four state senators brought the fractured state senate to a stand-still. They threw a major monkey wrench in government operations and enjoyed every minute of it.

One day because the senate was so evenly divided among democrats and republicans, democrats would be in control. (for the first time in decades) That is, if the four sided with their own party.

The next day Republicans were claiming control because the four were threatening to side with Republicans. For democrats, what the four did amounted to treason.

Governor David Paterson had no control of the situation and was forced to watch from the sidelines, and the fate was even worse for new Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. Due to the gang of four, it was the beginning of the end for Smith’s leadership.

Amazingly, the four is now down to one.

Kruger, the longtime legislator from Brooklyn was among the architects of that coup by the four dissident Democrats, and hit with corruption charges Thursday.

Hiram Monserrate was expelled from the Senate. He then ran for the his own Senate seat in the subsequent special election and for the Assembly in November, losing both contests.

Among the so-called amigos: there’s also Pedro Espada.

In September Espada will go on trial on federal embezzlement and conspiracy charges. He also faces a civil lawsuit charging him with looting more than $14 million from the network of non-profit healthcare clinics he founded. Voters in Espada’s Bronx district resoundingly rejected Espada and elected Gustavo Rivera to take his place in Albany.

If Kruger is convicted of a felony, he too must surrender his seat. Kruger is charged with setting up an elaborate bribery scheme that brought him $1 million in payoffs from hospital execs, a developer, and a lobbyist. Kruger is only the latest in a stream of state legislators, many of them from New York City facing corruption charges. As Rachael Fauss wrote on Gotham Gazette this week, “Between 1999 and 2010, 17 legislators left office because they were facing or had been convicted of criminal or corruption charges — one out of every 11 legislators who left office. Twelve of those were from New York City.

The only member of the so-called Gang of Four that is left standing is elected official Ruben Diaz Sr.

But oh, there’s also Malcolm Smith. The gang of four made his life a living hell. Smith may not be majority leader anymore, but he’s still in office serving the voters of his Queens District.

Smith is still standing, the so-called gang of four is not.