Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bid-rig left Espadas awash in cash: feds

Last Updated: 8:20 AM, April 4, 2012

Posted: 2:46 AM, April 4, 2012

These guys really cleaned up.

Ex-state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. and his son allegedly ran a bid-rigging scam that turned taking out the trash into cash for a Bronx cleaning company controlled by the younger Espada, testimony in Brooklyn federal court revealed yesterday.

The alleged scheme saw the elder Espada’s Soundview Health Care Network ask cleaning companies for bids on contracts to service several of the nonprofit’s clinics in The Bronx.

But Espada grossly overstated the amount of work that needed to be done — leading the companies to submit too-high bids that were doomed to fail, prosecutors claim.

Spencer Burnett
Pedro Espada leaves Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday after another day of trials.

When the time came to pick a winner, prosecutors charge, Espada’s government-funded Soundview Network tapped the low bidder — the cleaning company operated by his son, Pedro Gautier Espada.

One of the losing bidders yesterday testified how dramatically out of whack the elder Espada’s estimates of the work were.

Jesse Berland, owner of Safety Building Co., was asked by prosecutors what it would take, and cost, to sweep and mop an area about the size of the jury box in court yesterday.

“It wouldn’t take any longer than 10, 15 minutes,” Berland said. “You’re looking at $100 a month.” On Monday, one of Soundview’s tenants, radiologist Boris Kovler, testified that Espada told him to pay $2,500 of his total $5,300 rental costs each month to Pedro Gautier Espada’s company, Soundview Management Enterprises, for so-called janitorial services.

Kovler’s space was about the size of the jury box in the Espadas’ corruption trial.

Berland described how the former Senate majority leader claimed that each of the five facilities for which he was seeking cleaning bids needed at least one janitor working 40 hours per week, with one location in The Bronx requiring two full-time janitors.

“These were the hours I was given,” Berland said.

In fact, another witness testified yesterday, the cleaning needs of those facilities were much less than advertised. The witness, Soundview’s former head janitor, Edwin Miranda, is a cousin of the elder Espada.

“My uncle, Victor Feliciano, got me the job,” said Miranda. “He was in charge of the building — he was the engineer.”

Miranda testified that when he was at Soundview, there was one janitor, named Maxwell Noble, who was single-handedly responsible for cleaning two relatively small clinics, known as the Jessica Guzman and the Delany Sisters health centers.

Miranda said Noble had no trouble cleaning both clinics by himself.

But Berland, in his testimony, noted that the contracts for which the elder Espada requested bids stipulated that the Guzman and Delany clinics each required their own full-time janitor, working 40 hours per week.

The Espadas are accused of looting the taxpayer-supported Soundview Health Care Network.

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