Disgraced former State Senator Pedro Espada and his son Pedro G. Espada were released on $750,00 bail today after pleading not guilty to charges of embezzling more than half a million dollars from the Bronx nonprofit health care network they managed. According to a grand jury indictment returned yesterday, Espada used the non-profit Soundview, which the senator founded 30 years ago, to live a life of semi-luxury and finance his political campaigns. The Times reports that Espada allegedly used some of the money to pay for a lavish birthday party at his Mamaroneck home, replete with petting zoo, pony rides and a videographer. And you already knew about the $20,000 in sushi deliveries, but did you know about the Bentley?
Prosecutors say Espada took $49,000 from Soundview for the down payment on a $125,000 Bentley. Sadly, he never bought the car because his credit application was rejected. Espada allegedly used a Soundview corporate American Express card to cover many of his personal expenses, like $100,000 worth of meals, window treatments for his home, and Broadway shows. According to the indictment, he also used Soundview loot to pay for a ghostwriter to work on a book project, and fix the air conditioner. Pork—you can use it for anything!
"The indictment alleges that funds that could and should have been applied to purchase medical equipment and enhance health care services for an historically under-served population were diverted by the defendants for their personal use and to benefit friends and family members," said United States Attorney Lynch in a statement. "In these difficult economic times, the charged crimes are all the more reprehensible." And Attorney General/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, who has also filed a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit against Espada, told NY1, "They were living high on the hog, as they would say, and they were, in a cruel twist of fate, in a really obnoxious perversion of intent, using funds that were supposed to go to provide health care for poor people, to live a luxurious, extravagant lifestyle."
Espada and his son Pedro G (whom you may recall from his brief stint in an easy $120K-a-year Senate job his daddy got for him) face a maximum of 10 years in prison for the embezzlement charges, five years for a conspiracy count, and a fine of $250,000 for each count on which they are convicted. So please, have some respect for the Espada family during this difficult time. "Today is a sad day for Soundview and a sad day for the Espada family," his lawyer told the Times, with musical accompaniment provided by a trio of violinists so small they were imperceptible to the naked eye.