In the wake of this morning's raid on the Bronx non-profit controlled by State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., it's being reported that investigators were looking for evidence to support charges of money laundering, mail fraud and tax fraud. A team of agents from the FBI, IRS and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office spent eight hours at Espada's Soundview Healthcare Network, and "used bolt cutters to open an 8-foot-tall, 25-foot-long storage container behind the building and removed Espada campaign posters and other items," the AP reports. Agents were seen unloading boxes marked "payroll" and "timesheets" from the trailer.
Yesterday, Cuomo filed a civil suit against Espada, accusing him of siphoning $14 million from Soundview (which receives millions in taxpayer money) for himself and his family. The health clinic remained open during the raid today, and one longtime patient Vernelle Jenkins, 69, told the Daily News, "This is a bad thing. It's stealing at the expense of the people he should be helping." And patient Muriel Moreno spoke for many of us when he bluntly declared, "He's a crook. These are poor people. He's using us to get away with illegal acts. He's a bottom-feeder. I'm glad (federal agents) are here, because we need this place clean."
During a press conference last night, Espada repeatedly refused to address the charges, but described the investigation as "simple political payback for what the establishment likes to call the Senate coup." Cuomo's lawsuit also names one of Espada's sons, Pedro G, whom you may recall from his brief and controversial $120K Senate job. Alluding to his son, Espada took a nice swipe at Cuomo last night, "I find it disingenuous to demonize my family simply for working for a business that I founded. It is no more inappropriate than working for your daddy as the hatchet man and then aspiring to step on his shoulders to be governor." Oh, we're gonna miss this guy!
According to the AP, "Espada was excused from legislative session for the day but little was done in his absence. Without him, the Senate's Democratic majority lacked the 32 votes needed to pass any legislation without Republican support and adjourned after less than an hour." That's right, folks: At press time, NOTHING IS GETTING DONE IN ALBANY.