Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pedro Espada Jr. hit with suit for allegedly pocketing $1.35M from sham job-training program

Thursday, April 29th 2010, 4:00 AM

Pedro Espada Jr. was hit with yet another lawsuit for allegedly  pocketing $1.35M from a phony job-training program.
Kamrass/Times Union
Pedro Espada Jr. was hit with yet another lawsuit for allegedly pocketing $1.35M from a phony job-training program.

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. got hit with a new civil suit Wednesday - this time for pocketing $1.35 million from a phony job-training program.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo accused Espada and his son, Pedro G. Espada, of creating a bogus program to circumvent minimum wage law at a business run by the senator.

"The job-training program was a sham. There was no training, there was no program," Cuomo said. It's the latest legal blow to the Bronx Democrat.

Cuomo last week filed a civil lawsuit claiming he "looted" $14 million from the nonprofit Soundview HealthCare Network he founded. The FBI, IRS and Cuomo's investigators raided Soundview a day later as part of a sweeping fraud probe.

Cuomo's new lawsuit focuses on Espada Management Company, a for-profit operation that was hired by Soundview in early 2008 for $33,000 a month to provide janitorial services.

Cuomo said Espada and his son recruited people for a fake two-week training program and paid them as little as $1.70 an hour to mop floors and scrub toilets - while pocketing the rest of the cash.

The 100 trainees were really employees entitled to a minimum wage of $7.25 under state labor law, Cuomo's lawsuit says. He's seeking restitution for the workers.

In a Capitol news conference, Espada accused Cuomo of attempting a "political assassination in installments." He denied there was anything improper about the training program.

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