In April, Attorney General Cuomo filed a civil suit against Bronxchester Senator Pedro Espada Jr., accusing him of siphoning $14 million from his non-profit health clinic (which receives millions in taxpayer money) for himself and his family. The lawsuit was filed one day before a team of agents from the FBI, IRS and Cuomo's office raided his Soundview Healthcare Network—investigators were reportedly looking for evidence to support charges of money laundering, mail fraud and tax fraud. And it looks like they found plenty to go on, because the Post reports they're poised to hit Espada with serious criminal charges that could potentially put him behind bars for a decade.
According to the tabloid, the charges could include "lying on a state contract form by claiming Soundview's taxes were paid when it had actually failed to pay more than $750,000 to the state and federal governments, answering 'no' on a federal grant application to a question about outstanding federal debt when it owed at least $700,000 in federal payroll taxes, and falsely claiming to the IRS that Espada's 2007 salary was zero when it really topped $450,000."
The Post's Fred Dicker also reports that with the criminal charges looming, the state Democratic party is considering giving Espada the boot. Charlie King, the state party's executive director and a top political aide to Cuomo, is sending out a letter from his office tomorrow urging Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the Bronx Democratic chairman, to begin proceedings to oust Espada. "This is a move by the state party to get rid of Espada for good," a source close to Democratic leaders tells Dicker. Here's an excerpt of the letter:
Through his repeated public statements and bad conduct, Sen. Espada has shown he is not 'in sympathy' with our party's fundamental principles... This letter constitutes a formal request that the Bronx Democratic Party immediately initiate proceeding to cancel Sen. Pedro Espada Jr.'s enrollment as a Democrat. For more than a decade, Sen. Espada has cavalierly flouted campaign finance rules... Sen. Espada's Democratic affiliation is based solely on a desire for personal gain.
Room Eight thinks Dicker's article is a little "stupid" and points out that the Democratic Party tried to oust Espada in 2002, "only to have the Courts rule that anything Espada did on the Senate floor was protected under the State Constitution, and thus could not be used in a disenrollment proceeding." Espada faces election challenges from community leader Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter and Gustavo Rivera, who worked for US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Room Eight speculates that the move to kick out Espada "before a primary would certainly shift the dynamics of the race for his seat. With the moral underpinning knocked out from under her candidacy, would people start to notice Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter's ethnicity, making Gustavo Rivera the new frontrunner?"
Espada has not yet commented on this latest round of witch hunting.