'Gag' reflex by Espada as charity probe heats up
By ISABEL VINCENT
Last Updated: 7:06 AM, November 29, 2009
Posted: 3:22 AM, November 29, 2009
Embattled Bronx politico Pedro Espada Jr. is advising staffers at his health-care charity to check with his lawyers before speaking to state investigators probing allegations of financial misconduct -- a move some see as an effort to silence them. An Oct. 29 letter urged Soundview HealthCare Network employees to "immediately" call the Manhattan law firm of Hafetz & Necheles if they're contacted by the Attorney General's Office or "any other member of law enforcement investigating Soundview."
"It feels like they want to have too much control over what we say," said an employee who gave a copy of the letter to The Post.
Government watchdog Blair Horner, of the New York Public Interest Research Group, agreed that the letter could "shut up potential whistleblowers."
Espada, however, said it was all routine. "Employees are entitled to in-house legal counsel . . . The letter was a formality to remind them," he said.
The AG's office declined comment, but investigators know of the letter, said a source close to the probe of the $15 million Bronx nonprofit.