As promised, former NY State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada pleaded guilty to tax evasion yesterday and got a whole slew of other charges dismissed in exchange for agreeing not to appeal his theft conviction from earlier this year.
Espada was accused in 2010 of using his Soundview Health Clinic in the Bronx as a vehicle to embezzle $400,000 in taxpayer dollars, which he then used to fund non-profit-friendly luxuries like sushi, home improvements and his political campaigns.
While Espada and son Pedro G. (who was also implicated) have plead not guilty in the past, both changed their plea yesterday, with Espada taking responsibility for one count of tax evasion and Pedro G. pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of lying on his taxes and one of stealing federal funds. "I'm at peace," Espada told reporters yesterday. "We have accepted responsibility and we are moving on with our lives."
And Governor Cuomo, who was Attorney General during early investigations into Espada's activities and to whom Espada had directed some fighting words in the past, released a statement yesterday pertaining to the plea, saying, "Mr. Espada's reaction was to lash out again and again and to falsely disparage and accuse my Office of engaging in a politically-motivated witch hunt. Today I give Mr. Espada the last word—when he says, 'guilty.'" Espada faces up to seven years in prison, and Pedro G. could face up to two years.