[UPDATE BELOW]: Pedro Espada Jr., the coup-causing State Senator from Bronxchester, has fired back at critics who insinuate that his son, Pedro G. Espada, got hired by the Senate (during a state hiring freeze) because of nepotism. It recently came to light that Pedro G., a former city councilman and state assemblyman, was appointed to the $120,000-a-year position of "deputy director of intergovernmental relations" soon after his father returned to the Democratic fold, thus ending a month-long Senate stalemate. But seriously folks, "this is not the result of a quid pro quo or a contingency to my ending the Senate stalemate," as Espada declared in a statement:

If my son did not qualify for this position, he would not have gotten the job. He interviewed with Senate personnel and was hired by the Senate—not by me—on his own merits, qualifications, experience and background as a former public servant and successful entrepreneur. He has been expressing a desire to return to government service in some capacity and saw this opportunity. I encouraged him to pursue it. That was the extent of my involvement. This wouldn't even be a story if it were someone else hired to the position. End of story.

Oh, if only this story would end, preferably by death panel. Two Senate Democratic sources tell the Times Union that Espada actually tried to hire his son directly, which would have been, you know, illegal. The Senate Democratic leadership was informed of the legal conflict, but the source says "it appears they found an alternative solution." Pedro G.'s hiring was ultimately approved by Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson; the new position will allow him to work out of the Senate's Manhattan offices.

One Senate Democrat tells the Post that Pedro G. is "lazy and not so smart, so I don't know why we need him in some kind of policy role in the state Senate." Of course, you could say the same thing about a lot of state workers, so don't expect anyone in Albany to make too much of a stink. Besides, Espada's not the only turncoat empowered by treachery; let's not forget glass-smashing coup-pal Hiram Monserrate.

The Queens Senator has been reinstated as Chair of the Consumer Protection Committee, a position he lost after his indictment; the chairmanship gig comes with a $12,500 stipend, paid out again last month. And he was also approved for staff raises and hired two new staffers, costing the state an estimated additional $150,000 a year, the Times Union reports.

UPDATE: Daily Intel's Jacob Gershman reports that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating whether Senate Democrats broke the law by hiring Pedro G.: "'The attorney general's office has been considering the legality of the appointment since it first came to light on Monday. We're considering very closely the legal issues related to the hiring,' the official told New York... The Cuomo aide said state lawyers are trying to determine if Senator Espada violated the Public Officers Law, which prohibits legislators from engaging in nepotism. The office may need a referral from another body, like the Legislative Ethics Commission, according to the official."