Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Prosecutors: Case against Pedro Espada is not political & he shouldn’t say it is

Feds want to restrict defense arguments Comments
Tuesday, February 7, 2012, 12:53 PM
Former state senator Pedro Espada, who is under indictment.

Richard Harbus for New York Dail/Richard Harbus for News

Former state senator Pedro Espada, who is under indictment.

Federal prosecutors are trying to shut down several wacky escape routes ex-state Sen. Pedro Espada may try to use to weasel out of corruption charges at his trial next month.

The feds are asking Brooklyn Judge Frederic Block to preclude Espada and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, from arguing that the case against them is part of a political vendetta.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Pokorny cited in court papers an Aug. 10, 2011, Daily News article in which the former Bronx Democratic political boss accused Gov. Cuomo of having a "personal obsession to take on and dominate my world and my manhood."

The Espadas were indicted on charges of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a nonprofit Bronx health clinic they operated after a joint investigation by the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office, then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

If Espada thinks he's the victim of a selective prosecution, he should make that argument to the judge, not a jury, the prosecutor wrote.

Prosecutors are also trying to head off at the pass any claims that Espada's Soundview Healthcare Center never actually purchased his for-profit janitorial company for the agreed-upon sale price of $1.

Pokorny said once Soundview owned the janitorial company, the defendants looted it to pay for extravagant personal expenses like throwing a lavish birthday party for Espada's grandchild, paying a company to repair his credit score, and hiring a ghostwriter to work on a book project.

Espada's lawyers have disclosed in earlier court filings that his accountants approved the use of taxpayer funds for personal items.

Perhaps the most unusual argument prosecutors are seeking to bar is that Soundview board members and employees were negligent for failing to stop Espada and his son from lying and misusing federal funds, the court papers state.

Defense lawyer Susan Necheles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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