Friday, January 22, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.'s son subpoenaed by AG Andrew Cuomo in labor probe

Originally Published:Thursday, January 21st 2010, 3:45 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 21st 2010, 4:22 PM

Pedro G. Espada (r.) has been subpoenaed to testify about his father, state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.'s, for-profit management business, the Daily News has learned.
Lombard for News
Pedro G. Espada (r.) has been subpoenaed to testify about his father, state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.'s, for-profit management business, the Daily News has learned.

ALBANY - The son of embattled Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. and two others were subpoenaed Thursday by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office, the Daily News has learned.

The subpoenas order Pedro G. Espada and two other employees of his father's for-profit management company to testify before Cuomo investigators next week, sources with knowledge of the subpoenas said.

The younger Espada is believed to be the closest person to the senator called in by investigators since the Cuomo investigation began nine months ago.

The probe has seemingly expanded as the new subpoenas pertain to "an ongoing labor issue" at Soundview Management Enterprises, which was founded by Sen. Espada in 2007.

Reached by phone, Pedro G. Espada said little before referring all questions to his father's press office.

Asked if he received a subpoena from Cuomo's office, the younger Espada said, "If I did, I am unaware of it."

Court papers filed last week by Cuomo's office cited potential labor law violations at the senator's management company, including a scheme to boost profits by cheating workers.

Sources said Thursday that investigators are looking specifically into whether Sen. Espada's company underreported hours that employees worked - and whether employees were paid minimum wage.

Sen. Espada (D-Bronx) is the sole proprietor of Soundview Management.

The company was hired in early 2008 for $33,000 a month to provide janitorial services to Soundview HealthCare Network, a group of non-profit health clinics which Espada also founded.

"It's starting to boil over," one source said of the probe.

Sen. Espada has repeatedly maintained he has done nothing wrong and last week dismissed Cuomo's probe into him as a political witch-hunt.

Calling himself the state's highest-ranking Hispanic elected official, he injected ethnicity into the fight by accusing Cuomo of using him "as his personal political piñata."

Thursday's subpoenas are for "administrative testimony," not an order to appear before a grand jury, sources said.

Pedro G. Espada and the other Soundview Management employees will likely be asked for the first time about the other legal issues dogging the senator.

Cuomo's office last week asked a judge to compel Sen. Espada and Soundview to cooperate with previous subpoenas.

The court filing said that Cuomo's office has found "extensive evidence" of potentially illegal actions by the senator and the companies he controls.

The contract between Espada's health care network and management firm "allowed Mr. Espada to effectively siphon off and otherwise divert money from Soundview [health centers] for Mr. Espada's own personal and political benefit," the papers say.

The papers also revealed that Sen. Espada's management company's payroll spiked dramatically just before the 2008 election - and went down afterward.

His son worked on the campaign even as he was listed as working full-time for both Soundview and the management company, the court papers reveal. His wages from the management firm nearly doubled as the election drew closer.

He stopped appearing on the management company payroll after the election.

Pedro G. Espada also briefly made headlines after he was hired by the Senate Democrats to a $120,000-a-year job soon after his father became majority leader. He quit shortly thereafter.

Post a Comment