State Senate candidate Pedro Espada Jr. surivives residency challenge
BY BOB KAPPSTATTER DAILY NEWS BRONX BUREAU CHIEF
Sunday, August 17th 2008, 5:30 PM
Bronx political issues can sometimes be moving ones.
Case in point: controversial former State Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., with a house in Westchester and a co-op in the Bronx, last week likely survived a residency court challenge.
Espada, who formerly represented the East Bronx, is challenging State Sen. Efrain Gonzalez for his West Bronx seat in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary.
Gonzalez is due to go on federal trial in October, charged with siphoning $400,000 from non-profits he funded.
Last week, Special Referee John Ostermann issued a legal finding to Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Seewald that Espada legally lives in a two-bedroom Bedford Park co-op he bought last August.
Gonzalez, a Bronx Democratic Party stalwart, has the party's support, though he has leaned at times to the Republican side of the aisle in Albany.
Bronx Democrats, however, view Espada as a party pariah for sitting with the Republican majority and threatening to change his party registration when he was in office.
In the residency case, Gonzalez's operatives produced testimony from residents and the super of the co-op that they rarely saw or heard Espada, though they did encounter his wife and heard noises coming from the fourth-floor apartment.
They also submitted utility bills showing minimal gas usage, though Espada's wife, Connie, contended she cooked a number of meals for six of their nine grandchildren there. Both testified they spend only two to three days a week at the Mamaroneck house, which they said they have tried to sell "several times."
Gonzalez's side also submitted registration records for four cars Espada owns and mortgage and banking records, all tied to Mamaroneck or the Soundview Health Care network, upon which Espada has built a small fortune - and legal problems.
He was previously tried and acquitted of using Medicaid funds for campaign expenses.