NEW YORK (AP) – Ex-lawmaker Pedro Espada Jr. is preparing for a federal trial on embezzlement charges this week in New York.
Espada and his son are accused of pilfering state grants directed to the Soundview Health Center to pay for tickets for Broadway shows, a down payment on a Bentley and a birthday party pony, among other things. Prosecutors say the spending of more than $500,000 also included tickets for sporting events and concerts, posh restaurant tabs and a petting zoo.
Espada has described the indictment by the U.S. attorney’s office and then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as a political “witch hunt.” The charges ultimately cost him his state Senate seat.
Meanwhile, the beleaguered Bronx health care clinics he founded are fighting to stay open to serve some of New York’s poorest neighborhoods.
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(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)