Photos show Bronx pol Espada partying on taxpayer dime: feds
Here’s the birthday-party pony — and the purported pilfering, pot-bellied porker who paid for it. Disgraced Bronx politician Pedro Espada Jr. looks jolly in one of a slew of photographs entered into evidence at his embezzlement trial. Espada is...
Espada turned family tree into money tree at tax-funded clinic: ex-staffer
Last Updated: 6:47 AM, March 16, 2012
Posted: 12:40 AM, March 16, 2012
Pedro Espada Jr. ran his taxpayer-funded health clinic like a family business — and it made him filthy rich, a devastating prosecution witness said yesterday at the ex-pol’s federal corruption trial.
The former state Senate majority leader loaded more than a dozen relatives, cronies, hangers-on — and even his sons’ baby mamas — onto the payroll of the Soundview Healthcare Network that he founded and controlled.
By doing so, the once-powerful Democrat made it child’s play to illegally tap the Bronx nonprofit’s coffers for more than $500,000 to fund his lavish lifestyle — including $100,000 alone for dining, including sushi and lobster dinners — while getting paid a king’s ransom in salary and promised severance, prosecutors charge.
In one case, an Espada relative’s boyfriend was placed on Soundview’s board of directors — which OK’d Espada’s questionable salary and expenses — despite his utter lack of experience in either non-profits or the health-care industry, former Soundview personnel boss Maria Cruz told Brooklyn federal-court jurors.
“I heard he worked in a restaurant — I think he was a cook,” Cruz deadpanned when prosecutor Todd Kaminsky asked about the man’s résumé.
Cruz also testified that the former state senator’s son and co-defendant in the case, Pedro Gautier Espada, installed vending machines in Soundview’s facilities — and then allegedly pocketed the money collected by those machines, while operating a cleaning company that had a lucrative contract with Soundview.
And Cruz said the elder Espada, because of his awful credit rating, asked her to co-sign a loan for a luxury car he was hoping to buy.
“He wanted to obtain a Bentley. He wanted me to co-sign for him,” Cruz said about the pricey purchase, which eventually fell through.
She later co-signed with him on a loan for a Mercedes-Benz he bought — allegedly with funds illegally siphoned from a cleaning company he and his son controlled.
That company also had a contract with Soundview.
Espada’s wife, Connie, had a fully insured GMC Yukon SUV paid for by Soundview, even when she was no longer an employee, Cruz said.
And Cruz — testifying as part of a nonprosecution agreement with the feds — described photographs showing a birthday party for an Espada relative that the pol allegedly paid for with Soundview funds.
Among those photographs shown jurors was one of a beaming Espada Jr. next to a child who is sitting astride a pony. Others showed goats and someone dressed like the children’s-TV dinosaur Barney.