Saturday, June 15, 2013

Crooked ex-state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. sentenced to 5 years in prison for embezzlement


The shellfish snob's story is now one of rags to riches to prison — and disgrace. He was sentenced to federal prison for plundering a nonprofit and used funds to renovate his home, get spa treatments for his wife and have his lobster delivered and shucked.

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Updated: Saturday, June 15, 2013, 12:14 AM


























Joe Marino/New York Daily News

Pedro Espada Jr. shows his defiance arrives June 14th 2013 for sentencing on corruption charges.

Holy mackerel!
Pedro Espada Jr. will have to settle for prison tuna and mackerel instead of the lobster and sushi he’d been gorging himself on with plundered money from his nonprofit.
His rags-to-stolen-riches story of a homeless teen who goes from riding the subways to serving as one of the state’s most powerful politicians came to a crashing end Friday with a judge sentencing him to five years in federal prison.
On top of $344 worth in roses to his wife and $14,000 on Broadway tickets, Pedro Espada spent $100 for a lobster delivery PLUS an additional $18 to have the shell removed.

New York Daily News

On top of $344 worth in roses to his wife and $14,000 on Broadway tickets, Pedro Espada spent $100 for a lobster delivery PLUS an additional $18 to have the shell removed.

Brooklyn Judge Frederic Block also ordered the former seafood-loving Democratic state senator to pay $368,000 in forfeiture, $368,000 in restitution and $118,500 to the IRS. He also has to serve 100 hours of community service.
RELATED: FEDS ASK FOR 7 YEARS IN SLAMMER FOR DISGRACED EX-SEN. PEDRO ESPADA
The judge credited Espada’s good deeds in the past, but embraced the government’s characterization that he is “arrogant” and used his nonprofit as a “piggy bank.”
Pedro Espadad said his work with Soundview Health Network was a 'centerpiece' of his legislative careers. Turns out he was guilty of embezzling money from the organization to feed his shellfish appetite, among other things.

Mariela Lombard/for New York Daily News

Pedro Espadad said his work with Soundview Health Network was a 'centerpiece' of his legislative careers. Turns out he was guilty of embezzling money from the organization to feed his shellfish appetite, among other things.

Block ordered U.S. Marshals to take Espada into custody immediately, refusing to grant him the courtesy of self-surrendering at a later date.
Grim-faced, Espada touched his lips with two fingers and blew a kiss to his wife, Connie, before he was led away through a side door.
“This case showed who Pedro Espada really is,” said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. “A thief in a suit.”
Former state senator Pedro Espada Jr. arrives  June 14, 2013, at Federal Court. He was convicted last year of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Soundview Healthcare network he founded in 1981.

Aaron Showalter/New York Daily News

Former state senator Pedro Espada Jr. arrives June 14, 2013, at Federal Court. He was convicted last year of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Soundview Healthcare network he founded in 1981.

RELATED: SON OF EX-STATE SEN. SAYS HIS DAD IS TO BLAME
Espada, 59, was convicted last year of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Soundview Healthcare network he founded in 1981 to serve the poor in the Bronx. He and his son Pedro Gautier later pleaded guilty to tax evasion.
Armed with a corporate American Express credit card, Espada siphoned funds meant for the needy for personal gain, spending thousands of dollars on dinners, spa gift certificates for his wife, renovations for his Westchester home and parties. Meanwhile, the center lacked X-ray and MRI machines and other medical supplies
Judge Frederic Block  ordered Espada to prison for five years and to pay $368,088 in forfeiture, $368,087.43 in restitution and $118,531 to the IRS. He also has to serve 100 hours of community service.

Aaron Showalter/New York Daily News

Judge Frederic Block ordered Espada to prison for five years and to pay $368,088 in forfeiture, $368,087.43 in restitution and $118,531 to the IRS. He also has to serve 100 hours of community service.

“Espada spent over $100 on a lobster dinner delivered to his home in Mamaroneck that included an $18 charge to have the shell removed because apparently Espada did not want to endure that burden himself,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd Kaminsky and Carolyn Pokorny wrote in court papers.
Before the judge handed down his sentence, a defiant Espada told him that the Soundview clinic was the “centerpiece” of his life work.
RELATED: DISGRACED EX-SEN. PEDRO ESPADA, JR. DEMANDING COURTHOUSE SURVEILLANCE TO PROVE JUDGE PRESSURED JURY
Espada siphoned money from Soundview to renovate his home.

Espada siphoned money from Soundview to renovate his home.

“What I created as a young man was not a ‘piggy bank’ but a lifeline that served thousands of people for 30 years,” said the disgraced pol, who was nattily dressed in a navy suit and yellow tie.
He refused to say whether he accepted responsibility for the embezzlement conviction because of his appeal.
Block agreed that Espada deserved credit for the medical services his clinic provided to the poor for decades.
Espada claimed the judge presiding over his case, Judge Frederic Block, was deliberating with juror Luis Roman, who bolted from court after sentencing.

Joe Marino/New York Daily News

Espada claimed the judge presiding over his case, Judge Frederic Block, was deliberating with juror Luis Roman, who bolted from court after sentencing.

He also noted that many of the gifts Espada purchased with stolen money went to his wife, not a mistress, and mused about how extraordinary it seemed that he didn’t have a girlfriend in Albany.
RELATED: PEDRO ESPADA JR. LIVING ON LESS THAN $3,000 A MONTH
“It doesn’t matter if a misappropriated dollar goes to a wife or a girlfriend,” Kaminsky shot back.
Judge Frederic Block says Espada's claims he spoke with juror during deliberations were unfounded since he was not even in the courthouse at the time.

Aaron Showalter/New York Daily News

Judge Frederic Block says Espada's claims he spoke with juror during deliberations were unfounded since he was not even in the courthouse at the time.

Espada had been waging an 11th-hour effort to set aside the verdict and withdraw his guilty plea by accusing the judge of committing misconduct by secretly speaking to the jurors while they were deliberating. Block said he was not even in the courthouse when a juror claimed he entered the jury room.
Espada then demanded a review of courthouse records to back up his claims.
The strategy backfired — court officials produced computer records of Block’s access swipe card in court on Friday showing beyond any doubt that he was not in the building when the juror claimed.
Espada blew kiss to wife Connie, seen here with son Alejandro on Friday.

Aaron Showalter/New York Daily News

Espada blew kiss to wife Connie, seen here with son Alejandro on Friday.

RELATED: EX-SEN. PEDRO ESPADA SAYS NEW EVIDENCE PROVES INNOCENCE
“I’m glad there’s no access card in the men’s room,” Block quipped after noting how extensively his comings and goings in the courthouse are electronically tracked.
Block said he was referring juror Luis Roman’s “false” affidavit to the U.S. attorney’s office for possible prosecutions of the juror and Espada for obstruction of justice.
Roman attended the sentencing, he told the Daily News, at Connie Espada’s invitation. He appeared shaken that he was now the subject of a criminal investigation.
“I could have been mistaken about the timing, it’s been a year,” Roman said in a turnabout. “Nobody told me to lie.”
RELATED: JUDGE DISPUTES ESPADA'S CLAIM HE PRIVATELY URGED A VERDICT
Espada is a member of a rogues gallery of state senators recently convicted or indicted on corruption charges that includes Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), Shirley Huntley (D-Queens), Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) and Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer).
For the next month, Espada will call home the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where he will likely be in solitary confinement due to his notoriety. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will likely send him to a minimum security camp, like Fort Dix, N.J., to serve his sentence with other white-collar and nonviolent felons.
“There’s no merit to his appeal in my opinion,” Block said. “I sat through the trial, the evidence against him was overwhelming.”
Prosecutors had argued that Espada deserved a sentence of seven years while defense lawyer Angel Cruz sought no jail time at all.
Gov. Cuomo, who launched the probe as then-state attorney general into Espada’s thievery, said justice was served by the sentence.
jmarzulli@nydailynews.com
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