Reporting Marcia Kramer
NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) – Pedro Espada Jr. was a free man Wednesday night.
The embattled state senator and his son pleaded not guilty to accusations they looted a Bronx health clinic to live high on the hog.
The case includes five embezzlement charges, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
When Espada walked out of the federal court house Wednesday he looked a little worse for wear.
“We’ll have some comments. If you relax, we’ll have some comments,” Espada said.
Gone were the flashy suits with the satin ties and the matching pocket handkerchiefs that were Espada’s trademark. But his trademark defiance was out in full force.
“I do have abiding faith in the justice system and the people that decide these matters and I look forward to a full and complete vindication in court,” Espada said.
Both Espada and his lawyer talked of the senator’s history of providing health care to the poor of the Bronx and totally ignored the federal indictment that charges Espada and his son, Pedro G. Espada, with looting $500,000 that should have gone to provide medical equipment and care for the poor patients at his Soundview medical clinic.
“No one has done more for poor people in terms of providing health care in the Bronx then Sen. Espada,” attorney Susan Necheles said.
The feds say the money Espada and his son are charged with embezzling didn’t go to the poor. They say it went to pay for upgrades to his out-of-the-Senate-district home in leafy Mamaroneck, where he ordered up a petting zoo for a birthday party, lavish meals — $20,000 alone at a Mamaroneck sushi restaurant — and tickets to the Yankees, the Mets and Broadway shows like “Jersey Boys.”
Espada’s wife, Connie, posted a $750,000 bond to spring her husband. Pedro G.’s wife posted the same amount for him.
At the end of the court hearing the judge wished Sen. Espada a happy New Year and told him to come back to court on Jan. 7.
Espada asked to have his trial delayed so his attorney can have more time to prepare. In the meantime, he can travel only in the tri-state area.