The Soundview Health Clinic run by former State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. was running low on medical supplies while the disgraced Bronxchester politician spent over $500,000 of Soundview money to pay for his lavish lifestyle, a former clinic employee testified yesterday. "We were constantly running low on medical supplies,” Maria Dolores Cruz, one of three original employees of the Soundview Health Care Network, testified yesterday at Espada's embezzlement trial. "The patients would come in to get their dentures and their dentures would not be there.” Meanwhile, Espada was allegedly raiding the non-profit's coffers to cover this laundry-list of luxuries:

  • A salary of $235,000 a year (on top of what he made as a State Senator) that came with eight weeks’ paid vacation and 30 days’ paid sick leave. (The vacation and sick leave rolled over year-to-year, by the way.)
  • $115,000 in personal charges using his corporate credit card.
  • Soundview money paid for Espada’s wife's fully insured GMC Yukon SUV, even though she was not an employee.
  • Espada's severance package was supposed to pay him “one year gross salary for every year of employment,” according to Cruz, which would total $6 million to $7 million.
  • $100,000 alone for dining, including his infamous sushi and lobster dinners
  • A $10,000 charge for Yankees tickets on his corporate American Express Card.

About those Yankees tickets: Cruz testified that when she questioned Espada about paying for them with Soundview money—you know, the taxpayer money that was supposed to go to help poor sick people—Espada told her, "I don’t understand what’s the big deal. I paid for it with my accrued vacation."

Much of the day was spent on the prosecution's presentation of the Espada family tree. The Times reports that Cruz "went through the family person by person, pointing out more than a dozen of Mr. Espada’s family members and in-laws who served on the board of the health care network or held other leadership positions. Most had little experience relating to the job, including one relative who joined the board after working as a cook in a restaurant."

Cruz, who was convicted of cutting another woman with a knife in 1991, testified as part of an immunity agreement that will spare her jail time for her conviction for working on Espada’s political campaign while also getting paid by Soundview. She also testified yesterday that Espada's credit was so bad that he begged her to co-sign a loan so he could buy a Bentley. When that fell through, Cruz says she co-signed a loan so Espada could buy a Mercedes—allegedly using funds illegally siphoned from a cleaning company he controlled. This cleaning company, by the way, was awarded an exclusive contract with Soundview and was run by Espada's son Pedro G.