Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gov. Cuomo has been out to get me for years, former pol Pedro Espada claims

Wednesday, August 10th 2011, 4:00 AM

Former pol Pedro Espada (right) believes Gov. Cuomo (left) has a vendetta against him.
Hans Pennink/AP; Jesse Ward for News
Former pol Pedro Espada (right) believes Gov. Cuomo (left) has a vendetta against him.

ALBANY - Indicted former Sen. Pedro Espada on Tuesday accused Gov. Cuomo of carrying out a vendetta by pushing a probe that could strip $10 million in Medicaid money from his Bronx health care network.

The disgraced ex-lawmaker accused Cuomo of a "personal obsession to take on and dominate my world and my manhood" dating back to when Cuomo was attorney general.

Espada said the timing of the latest investigation is timed to taint the jury pool of his upcoming federal trial on charges he misused $500,000 in Soundview Healthcare Network money for personal and political purposes.

"He is as attorney general the prosecutor and accuser; as a governor he wants to be judge and jury," Espada said.

Standing with two Soundview Healthcare board members, Espada vowed to fight attempts to yank Soundview's Medicaid license, which could force it to close.

Espada made the comments on a day when Cuomo's acting Medicaid inspector general, James Cox, confirmed he is probing the "operational practices" of Espada's Soundview Healthcare network.

"We are aware of the reports of a potential action," Cox said. "There is an ongoing investigation, and we will have an announcement shortly."

Cox said Espada, Soundview's president and CEO, and his son, Pedro G. Espada, were excluded in January from the Medicaid program. Both Espadas still work at Soundview.

Soundview is also said to lack a Medicaid compliance program and failed to file its 2008 and 2009 financials with the IRS.

Cuomo filed two suits against Espada. One claimed he "looted" $14 million from Soundview; the other said he pocketed $1.35 million from a phony job-training program.

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