For Pedro Espada, Accusations Swirl as Patients Wait and Watch

In the days since the New York attorney general filed a lawsuit charging State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. with using a Bronx healthcare organization as his own “personal piggybank,” the senator’s son defended their family as details emerged about Espada’s expensive sushi habit and accusations that the senator doesn’t live in the Bronx district he supposedly represents.

See what patients at one of the Soundview clinics had to say:

Attorney general Andrew Cuomo’s lawsuit charges Espada with “siphoning” $14 million from Comprehensive Community Development Corporation, also known as “Soundview,” a company that provides low cost health care services to patients in the Bronx from five locations. Espada founded the company in 1978. He is currently Soundview’s president and chief executive officer.

Nineteen current and former Soundview employees are also named in the lawsuit including seven of Espada’s family members. Cuomo’s lawsuit alleges Espada and his relatives received vacations and lavish compensation packages through Soundview. The senator’s contract with the company included a $9 million severance bonus. Espada is also accused of using his corporate credit card for campaign expenses and personal expenses including $20,000 bills at two sushi restaurants.

Espada was elected to represent the 33rd District in 2008. In order to serve in the Senate, he is required to live within the district. Espada’s benefits at Soundview included $2,500 monthly housing allowance for a co-op apartment at 325 E 201st St. in the Bronx. During the two years Espada has maintained his apartment in Bedford Park, various residents of the building have spoken to news outlets claiming he does not live there. In the past, Espada’s response to these allegations has been that he divides his time between his home in the Bronx and his office in Albany.

Espada is also listed in the public phone directory as a resident of 115 Beechwood Road, a leafy cul-de-sac in Mamaroneck, with his wife, Connie, and their children. The home is located near the two sushi restaurants, Toyo Sushi and Red Plum, where Espada allegedly used his Soundview credit card to purchase meals. Peter Chen, the owner of both restaurants, said the Espadas visited Red Plum “probably once a week” and ordered takeout from Toyo Sushi “three or four times a month.” Though he said he couldn’t recall if they had a favorite dish, Chen said the Espadas were “average tippers.”

In 2004, Sandra Love and three other Soundview officials plead guilty to charges that they diverted money from Soundview to Espada’s political campaign. Espada and Love were previously acquitted on similar charges in 2000. According to Cuomo’s lawsuit, all four Soundview staffers who were convicted of criminal charges were retained by the company and two of them were named to the company’s Compliance Committee. Love’s son, Jerry Love Jr., was hired by Espada in 2009. Love Jr. is named in the current lawsuit.

Records show that the senator’s political action committee, Espada for the People, paid $1,265.82 to Soundview in December 2007. The senator did not respond to messages left at his offices in Albany and East Fordham Road as well as calls made to his addresses in the Bronx and Mamaroneck asking for an explanation of these charges to Soundview and the attorney general’s allegations of misconduct. An intern at Espada’s Bainbridge office said he had “no idea” where the senator was and that he last saw him in Bainbridge “a couple weeks ago.”

But Espada did appear on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” show on Thursday to defend himself against the charges. He said there was no intention for him to receive the $9 million severance bonus and that the case was “politically motivated.” Espada stated he has no plans to resign from the senate while he fights the lawsuit. On Friday morning, he continued his counter attack on “This is a witch hunt by the prince of darkness himself,” he said, referring to Cuomo.

Lourdes Espada, the senator’s daughter-in-law, is also named in the attorney general’s suit although her husband, Pedro Gautier Espada, is not named. One of the allegations against the senator is that Soundview awarded a $400,000 yearly janitorial contract to a management company run by his son. On Wednesday night, Gautier Espada posted a message on his Facebook profile that said: “Who ever thinks that the liberties and freedoms we enjoy as Americans are free has never paid and must walk through life with blinders on. The truth is, those principles that our union uses as it’s foundation are very expensive. They have been paid for in blood. sacrifice, sweat and tears. Today I keep my head up knowing that someway I have paid a small price in maintaining the very principles of our existence.”

The note has since been deleted. Gautier Espada has not responded by e-mail requests seeking further comment on this story.

*The 33rd District includes the neighborhoods of Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights, Bedford Park, Van Cortlandt Village, University Heights, Fordham, Tremont, East Tremont, Norwood and Mount Hope.

3 Responses to “For Pedro Espada, Accusations Swirl as Patients Wait and Watch”

  1. Espada and his family are being framed by Cuomo who has abused his office. Espada will fiel ehtics charges against Cuomo and a federal civil rights lawsuit against Cuomo in 90 days.

  2. Mr. Cuomo abused his office in pursuing Espada and his family. The charges are not true, and it is a shame the Bronx Ink has not looked at the motives behind Cuomo’s relentless obsession with destroying Mr. Pedro Espada, Jr and his family. While you may not like Espada, he is his own person. He too is entitled to Constitutional protections.
    Mr. Espad ahs legal recourse to file a federal civil rights law suit vs Mr.Cuomo, and to press ehtics charges against Cuomo. Espada should ask for a federal special counsel to investigate why the FBI/IRS raided his clinic without due-process. The Warrnts were 10 days old and Mr. Espada was in leigslative session i nAlbany, NY when he was called at 5AM on Apr 21, 2010 and told by his clinic staff that the feds were raiding the clinic, a clear conspiracy!
    The US Dept of Justice should investigate who gave the order to raid the clinic, and if whether federal conspicacy laws may have been broken by Cuomo the FBI and IRS in the suspicious raid that was leaked ot the media with the deliberate intent to have the effect of criminalizing Senator Espada and his clinic in the court of publi copinion. They FBI/IRS and Cuomo violated the Constitution of the United States.
    I hope they don’t come after me for saying what I feel here-based on free speech rights and protections.

  3. For more on Andrew Cuomo go to the Black Star News online, and type in their search area to the left: Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Manfreddonia has done some excellent investigative reports on Cuomo that will make you cringe, and these reports have been ignored by the large media becauase they are enthralled by Coumo’s obsessive pursuit to destroy Mr. Espada and his family.
    The enthralling love fest between the media and Cuomo is an aberration of the worst kind! i will not vote for him and I hope New Yorkers give their votes to anybody except Cuomo. He scares me and he is dangerous! Cuomo goes after small fries like Espada because he can bully Mr. Espada and his family. Cuomo willl not prosecute big bankers from whom he is accepting political campaign cotributions, which shows Cuomo is a demagogue of the worst kind.


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