Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pedro’s family took $15G trip to Puerto Rico using Bx. nonprofit's money: prosecutors

Last Updated: 4:29 AM, April 14, 2012

Posted: 1:21 AM, April 14, 2012

He was living the “suite” life.

Pedro Espada Jr. used $15,000 of his Bronx nonprofit’s money so he and his family could live it up at a luxurious beachside Puerto Rico resort, prosecutors revealed yesterday.

That cash covered the Espada clan’s stay in a San Juan hotel suite, two other rooms, meals at resort restaurants, minibar charges, room service and “resort fees,” a witness testified in Brooklyn federal court.

The Espadas’ two-bedroom suite alone cost about $9,000 for five nights — and a single meal at The Palm restaurant during the trip there cost $478.38, a witness testified.

Riyad Hasan
Pedro Espada

Espada also rang up seven minibar charges, including one dip in the fridge for $109.24.

At the same time that the taxpayer-funded Soundview Healthcare Network was paying his and his relatives’ expenses, he collected $1,500 worth of “per diem” payments from Soundview for the November 2008 Puerto Rico stay at El San Juan Hotel and Casino.

Such payments are meant for meals and other costs associated with traveling out of town — costs already on Soundview’s credit card.

The damning evidence emerged as the embezzlement trial of the former state Senate majority leader and his son Pedro Gautier Espada resumed yesterday.

They are accused of looting the nonprofit Soundview and a for-profit cleaning company they operated to pay their exorbitant personal expenses, which were disguised as legitimate business expenses.

On its Web site, the San Juan Resort and Casino boasts its “old-world elegance” and encourages customers to “experience the timeless enchantment of the island of Puerto Rico.”

“Relax in a tropical setting amid lush landscaped grounds, cool ocean breezes, and old-world ambiance.”

Evidence yesterday showed that Espada and his wife, Connie, stayed there on Nov. 5 through 9, 2008, with their son Alejandro, his wife, Lizette, and Espada’s mother, Angelita.

Hotel credit manager Deborah Guzman testified to the dizzying array of charges racked up by Espada — on Soundview’s dime.

Highlights included a $129.32 breakfast featuring smoked salmon, tropical muesli, a turkey club sandwich and other food, as well as a $380.24 bill one night at the Japanese restaurant Yamato.

One room-service order was for $18.61 — for chicken fingers. And an in-room movie charged to Soundview cost $13.90.

And every day, Espada used Soundview’s money to pay a “resort charge” — which ran $217 per day.

Soundview, which is supposed to serve Bronx’s poor residents with health-care services, is largely funded with federal government grants.

Espada’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, tried in cross-examination to suggest that he was there to attend a conference at the neighboring Intercontinental Hotel and that he needed the suite and extra rooms for entertaining guests.

The only health-care components during the five-day conference were a two-hour breast-cancer workshop and a two-hour session on diabetes awareness.

Former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., his wife Connie and several relatives lived la vida dulce at a Puerto Rico resort in November 2008, racking up $15,000 in expenses.

* $8,919.10 for a two-bedroom suite with parlor

* $390.69 in total minibar charges, including a single charge of $109.24

* $478.38 dinner at The Palm restaurant

* $380.24 meal at Yamato restaurant

* $129.32 breakfast at La Terrazza restaurant

* $105.72 in room service, including a single $18.61 order of chicken fingers

* $20-30 per day in valet parking charges

* $13.90 for one in-room movie

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