- Last Updated: 6:51 AM, June 15, 2013
- Posted: 12:58 AM, June 15, 2013
Disgraced ex-state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. — who looted his taxpayer-funded Bronx nonprofit to pay for lavish meals and a fancy car — was slapped with five years in prison yesterday after refusing to apologize for his crimes.
“There’s no question that Mr. Espada’s sense of entitlement and arrogance grew over the years and he treated Soundview [Healthcare Network] as his personal piggy bank,” fumed Brooklyn federal Judge Frederic Block.
In addition to the jail term, the former state Senate majority leader must cough up more than $736,000 in fines and $118,531 in taxes — although Block doubted whether the scammer would ever pay up.
Espada, dressed in a natty blue suit and cuff links, seemed anxious to have his wife witness his final disgrace, asking family members in the gallery before his sentencing hearing started, “Where’s Connie? Where’s Connie?”
Told she was on her way, he said, “Save her a seat.”
At one point, Block did give Espada credit for at least one thing: pampering his wife.
“So many of these gifts went to his wife, Connie. I didn’t see any indication that he had a mistress. He may be the only politician in Albany who doesn’t have a mistress,” Block quipped.
Espada blew a kiss to his wife as he was hauled out of court.
One of their sons, Alejandro, also was on hand — dressed in a Puerto Rican flag jacket.
Espada was convicted last year of four separate counts of theft related to his rampant looting of the Bronx-based health-care clinics he founded more than 30 years ago.
He had faced as little as one year behind bars; prosecutors were seeking seven.
Both Espada, 59, and son Pedro Gautier Espada, 39, had been charged with stealing more than $545,000 from Soundview by having the federally supported non-profit pick up the tab for their personal expenses.
Gautier Espada likely will get 18 months in prison when he is sentenced June 18.
The Espadas falsely claimed their spending was related to legitimate business purposes for Soundview, which was supposed to help poor Bronx residents get quality health care.
Some of the most egregious examples of Espada’s spending included the food he bought for himself and his family.
“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,” prosecutors wrote in one court filing.
He also spent thousands of Soundview dollars for a relative’s birthday party that included a pony and for a family vacation in Puerto Rico.
Espada once even charged a 95-cent cookie from Starbucks on Soundview’s card.
But even when pressed by Block, the greedy politician still wouldn’t admit wrongdoing.
“Do you accept responsibility for this?” Block asked.
Espada said he had already pleaded guilty on the tax charge and added, “I am at this point not addressing that issue.”
The crafty pilferer instead praised the work of Soundview.
“The centerpiece of it all was always the patients,” he said. “The patients always came back to Soundview.”
Espada pleaded for a lesser sentence, to no avail.
“I have been a lot of things. Right now, I’m a grandfather of 11 grandchildren,” he said. “I don’t want these grandchildren to be without their grandfather.”
Espada had tried a variety of tricks to dodge prison, including filing an affidavit this week from a juror who claimed Block once walked into the deliberations room and spoke to jurors.
Block yesterday ticked off multiple reasons as to why he couldn’t have been in the courthouse when the juror said he was, including phone records that showed he was at home that morning. He blasted Espada for filing what he said he must have known was an incorrect affidavit.
The juror, Luis Roman, who said Espada’s wife contacted him and told him to come to yesterday’s hearing, later insisted outside court: “Nobody told me to lie . . . I could be mistaken about the time.”