- Last Updated: 5:45 AM, October 5, 2012
- Posted: 2:42 AM, October 5, 2012
The former state Senate majority leader interrupted a court proceeding yesterday when his disgruntled defense lawyer knocked him as a has-been.
Lawyer Daniel Hochheiser told the judge he wanted to bail on Espada’s pending tax-fraud trial because the disgraced Bronx Democrat is a horribly high-maintenance client who doesn’t pay his bills.
“Not only did I have numerous meetings with Mr. Espada at my office, but we also met at my home and in restaurants because he used to be VIP,” the lawyer said.
The two traded personal barbs throughout the Manhattan federal-court hearing.
In one example, Hochheiser said it took 10 hours over the course of several sit-downs to discuss a single letter from prosecutors.
“It’s difficult to communicate with Mr. Espada because he tends to filibuster,” Hochheiser said.
“It’s very difficult to keep Mr. Espada focused on the facts of the issue.”
Espada insisted that he had met with Hochheiser only five times since hiring him — “and three were mostly about his demands for money.”
And the disgraced ex-pol said he expected to be represented by Hochheiser’s dad, renowned defense lawyer Lawrence Hochheiser.
“Mr. Daniel Hochheiser is not the reason I’ve retained Hochheiser & Hochheiser,” Espada said. “Lawrence Hochheiser is the reason.”
On Tuesday, Espada said he wanted Judge William Pauley III to force Daniel Hochheiser to return $100,000 in legal fees, which the lawyer insisted he had “more than earned.”
Pauley refused to let Hochheiser off the case, however, saying the disagreements didn’t warrant delaying Espada’s Nov. 5 trial.
“It is clear that Mr. Espada is a difficult client . . . but it’s clear his conduct will not change,” the judge said.
Hochheiser — who at one point had referred to Espada as his “adversary” — said, “I accept Your Honor’s ruling. I will do my best.”
Pauley replied, “I’m confident that you will do a fine job, Mr. Hochheiser. You have a difficult client.”
Espada is charged with evading taxes on about $500,000 he looted from a network of nonprofit medical clinics he founded, for which he faces 40 years behind bars after getting convicted on theft charges in Brooklyn federal court.