Saturday, September 22, 2012

Espada takes a ‘walk’

Remains free after Soundview bail ‘violation’

  • Last Updated: 1:14 AM, September 22, 2012
  • Posted: 12:55 AM, September 22, 2012
Pedro Espada Jr. is free — for now.
A Brooklyn federal judge yesterday declined to lock up the disgraced ex-state senator, saying more time is needed to decide whether Espada violated his bail when he got a massive payout from the same Bronx nonprofit he robbed blind.
Judge Frederic Block told prosecutors and Espada’s lawyer that he wants to see more evidence, in writing, from both sides before making a ruling. He set an Oct. 5 deadline.
Prosecutors had demanded that Block revoke Espada’s bail and toss him in the slammer, claiming he violated Block’s order not to be “directly involved” in the affairs of Soundview Healthcare Network, Espada’s now-defunct nonprofit.
‘BILK’ MONEY: Pedro Espada Jr. and wife Connie arrive at Brooklyn federal court yesterday, where a judge allowed him to remain free on bail — for now.
Paul Martinka
‘BILK’ MONEY: Pedro Espada Jr. and wife Connie arrive at Brooklyn federal court yesterday, where a judge allowed him to remain free on bail — for now.
Espada is awaiting sentencing after being convicted in May for bilking nearly half a million dollars from Soundview.
Prosecutors alleged that, since late June, Espada and son Pedro Gautier Espada again looted Soundview — siphoning $600,000 from the sale of assets and keeping more than $300,000 of it for themselves. Nearly half went to papa Espada.
“The government . . . has to convince me there has been a violation of this [bail] language,” Block said yesterday.
Espada Jr.’s lawyer argued in court that the judge did not make it a condition of the shamed pol’s $750,000 bail that he couldn’t receive payments from Soundview.
“Nor was there any prohibition on Mr. Espada’s family members continuing to operate or be involved with Soundview,” lawyer Susan Necheles contended.
She said the payouts were approved by Soundview’s board, noting, “The board chose to pay these creditors above other creditors.”
Prosecutors noted that the board is run by Espada’s son Alejandro — who cut the controversial checks — and said there is “very strong circumstantial evidence” that Espada Jr. continued to be involved in Soundview’s affairs.
When the judge suggested that the board’s actions may have been “legitimate,” Assistant US Attorney Carolyn Pokorny blasted, “It makes no sense for the board to give out $144,000 to the man convicted of stealing [from the nonprofit].”
She called Espada Jr.’s argument “bizarre and illogical” and noted that Soundview owes piles of cash — estimated at more than $3 million — to creditors and the IRS.
“Almost no one would rather pay the IRS. Most anyone would want to give the check to Espada,” Necheles shot back.
Espada Jr., accompanied by his wife and Pedro Gautier — but without his usual entourage of bodyguards and supporters — was defiant outside court.
“We regard this as a win,” he said. “They came to court with a bag of lies. And thanks to Justice Block, we’re going home with a victory today.”
He declined to answer questions about the Soundview payout.
Pedro Gautier faces an upcoming trial on embezzlement and tax charges. His brother Alejandro is also under investigation.

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