Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dad and son Diaz are off U.S. Attorney's hook

Bob Kappstatter

Tuesday, March 17th 2009, 8:55 AM

While former Bronx Borough President/Obama urban policy czar Adolfo Carrión has been squirming under the investigative spotlight, the feds have reportedly dropped their two-year-long investigations into Assemblyman and BP candidate Ruben Diaz Jr. and his state senator dad, Ruben (The Rev.) Diaz Sr.

Their lawyers tell us Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin's office told them the grand jury investigations were "terminated" with "no finding of wrongdoing."

A spokeswoman for Dassin said office policy is to neither confirm nor deny information in such matters.

As we previously reported exclusively, the feds were looking at the Diazes allegedly using workers at Soundview Community in Action for campaign work on nonprofit time and at potential voter registration fraud.

The Diazes cut SCA funding after director Ed Padilla charged them with using it as a political fiefdom. Reps. Jose Serrano, Joe Crowley and Councilwoman Annabel Palma have kept it funded.

Ed's brother Ken Padilla is district leader in Assemblyman Peter Rivera's 76th A.D. and backed a challenger against Rubencito in his recent assembly race.

Then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer wrist-slapped Daddy Diaz in 2005, making him repay $5,000 in state and fed funds to SCA that he used to buy furniture for his district office as well as campaign loudspeakers.

El-i-ot, phone home

No, we're not talking about E.T., but Rep. Eliot Engel, who suffered the embarrassment last week of being outed on his questionable residency issue.

The state of Maryland rejected his request for a 7G tax break on his $1 million family manse there, though Engel claimed it was his official residence.

Guess that Bronx apartment on his voter registration is just his crash pad when he's working the campaign circuit.

Where's dat Wascal?

A lot of west Bronx constituents are wondering just when and where newly elected State Sen. Pedro (The Wascally Wabbit) Espada Jr. is finally going to open a district office.

His senate Web site lists his Albany phone number and a questionnaire asking for contact information - and if you're registered to vote.

News blogger Liz Benjamin recently reported Pedro is eying offices at 400 E. Fordham Road. We, however, have received no phone nibbles back from the Wabbit.

Chicken with pork

We asked the borough's three congressmen to give us the top earmarked item they inserted among the 8,500 in the new omnibus spending bill signed by President Obama, who was not all that happy with the pork-larded document.

But as of deadline, two of them basically chickened out on the pork-barrel items.

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-South Bronx) said in a statement: "All the projects that I fund are important and worthwhile. I would have trouble ranking their significance against one another because, in so many ways, they are all vital to our community."

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-North Bronx) didn't respond, and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-East Bronx) didn't give us his top money item.

One congressman's aide, whom we shall mercifully spare with anonymity, told us, "Problem is, one group sees how much another one's getting and they get pissy."

Those board appointments

Since Adolfo left all those open community board appointments hanging fire, folks are wondering what's next.

City Council members appoint half the members, leaving the BP the rest, for each of the 12 50-member boards, with the BP's office screening for a final okay.

It's not likely Acting BP Earl Brown will want to approve any of the reappointment and new appointment applications.

A source in Rubencito's camp said he's ready to review and approve them (though maybe not all) should he win the special election, rather than wait for the winner of the general November election (wonder who?) to take office in January.

Fox update

Councilman Larry (The Fox) Seabrook is still NOT running for boro prez, if anyone cares.

Grand Old Party party

The Bronx Republican Party and chairman Jay Savino are throwing a "Spring Reception" Thursday at the Villa Barone, honoring supermarket mogul and mayoral wanna-be John Catsimatidis. Be interesting to see if the Man Who Would Be King Bloomberg stops by.

rkappstatter@nydailynews.com

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