Health clinic Pedro Espada ripped off is paying his legal bills
Last Updated: 5:45 AM, May 17, 2012
Posted: 12:35 AM, May 17, 2012
Not only did convicted ex-state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., treat the Soundview Healthcare Network as his personal piggy bank — he also made the taxpayer-funded clinic pay for his defense team, The Post has learned.
The financially crippled Bronx medical charity that Espada founded — and from which he was convicted this week of stealing nearly $500,000 — has forked over an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million more to pay for the thieving pol’s lawyers, sources told The Post.
“Soundview has been paying for his criminal defense,” a source said of Espada’s fees for his lead defense lawyer, Susan Necheles, and her assistants.
Tomas E. Gaston
Espada’s son Alejandro now heads the nonprofit.
“If you scour the bowels of the criminal-justice system in America, I don’t think you’d ever find another case with that scenario,” said Joseph Tacopina, a defense lawyer not involved in the case.
“An organization that he was accused of bilking is funding his defense for bilking that organization? That’s unique! That’s odd, to put it mildly.”
The former Senate majority leader faces up to 40 years in prison for the charges he was convicted of Monday in Brooklyn federal court. He also faces a retrial on four counts jurors deadlocked on and a related Manhattan federal-court tax- fraud trial.
A jury failed to render a verdict against elder son Pedro G. Espada, who also faces a retrial on all eight counts.
Sources said that Soundview had an insurance policy that normally covers legal bills of top officials. But the insurance company refused to foot his bills for defending charges that he routinely ripped off Soundview by forcing it to cover his personal expenses — including lobster and champagne dinners and family vacations, sources said.
So Soundview stepped up and wrote the lawyer’s checks for their work before and during Espada’s two-month trial.
“It definitely sounds horrible,” said Arthur Aidala, another defense lawyer unconnected to the Espada case. “Obviously, there’s a conflict, because they’re the victim.”
Soundview spokeswoman Rachel Fasciani said, “Soundview has not diverted any revenues toward Senator Espada’s legal fees.” Espada refused to comment.
Joanne Humphrey, 50, a Soundview client, said, “It’s very insulting to know my money is going towards his legal defense, on top of everything else. I looked up to him. I feel a sense of betrayal.”
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