NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — Over the last two years CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer has told you about a lot of schemes allegedly hatched by Sen. Pedro Espada, reportedly to divert funds from his publicly funded Bronx health clinic.
But there’s more. According to Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, a grand jury handed down an indictment Tuesday charging him with embezzling funds for such things as pony rides and a petting zoo for a family member’s birthday party.
And there’s a $49,000 check Espada allegedly attempted to use as a down payment on a Bentley automobile.
“This was not the private playground of Mr. Espada. These were public funds,” Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said back in April.
Civil charges filed by Cuomo last April that claimed Espada looted $14 million from his publicly funded Soundview Health Clinic were apparently just the tip of the iceberg.
A six-count indictment announced jointly Tuesday by Lynch, Cuomo, the FBI and the IRS charged Espada, 57, and his son, Pedro G. Espada, 37, with five counts of embezzlement from his nonprofit health care network and one count of conspiracy.
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports on some of the ways Espada allegedly used money illegally
One of the counts charged that Espada and his son rigged the awarding of Soundview janitorial contracts to make sure they won at an inflated price, thus enriching the Espadas.
It’s a story Kramer first told you about last April, because while allegedly inflating the contracts the Espadas were paying their janitors peanuts.
Carlos Gonzalez was one of Espada’s alleged victims.
Kramer: “How much were you paid?”
Gonzalez: “I was paid $150.”
That was $150 for two weeks work. That’s 80 hours at about $1.87 an hour. The state minimum wage is $7.25
As Kramer first reported the janitor program at Soundview sucked in about 100 people with promises of good training and a good job.
“The job training program was a sham. There was no training. There was no program,” Cuomo said.
Prosecutors said Espada and his son also siphoned off Soundview funds to pay for Broadway shows, fancy meals, baseball tickets, concerts and campaign expenses.
Espada lost his Senate seat in November and now could face a future behind bars. If convicted he could face 55 years in jail and a $1.5 million fine.