NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Disgraced former State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. is finally going to jail for using money from his Bronx health clinics to fund a lavish lifestyle.
He pleaded guilty to tax fraud and agreed not to challenge an earlier conviction for stealing clinic funds, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Friday.
“We can finally declare the Espada era is over,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said.
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Lynch made the announcement after Espada pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return in a plea deal that ended a three-year legal odyssey, an odyssey touched off when CBS 2’s Kramer first exposed the fact that the cheeky lawmaker was living in a leafy Westchester County suburb and not his Bronx district.
That raised questions about how he paid for the lavish Mamaroneck lifestyle and touched off investigations that led to charges he siphoned funds from his Soundview Health Clinic for the poor for his private use.
“Instead of buying an MRI machine he was going off to Puerto Rico and raiding the mini bar,” Lynch said. “Instead of paying the doctors and buying syringes he was buying luxury cars and expensive dinners. Instead of keeping the lights on in that clinic he was instead renovating his own house.”
Espada arrogantly dealt with every charge, even a May conviction of stealing $500,000 from Soundview. All the while he said he was innocent, but under the plea deal he had to agree not to appeal the conviction and make restitution in excess of $2 million. The deal allowed his son, Pedro G. Espada, to plead to lesser charges.
“We have accepted responsibility and we’re moving on with our lives. I am a husband, father and grandfather and my family is important,” Pedro Espada said.
Despite the humiliation of the moment, Espada couldn’t totally drop the arrogance.
“I’m proud of the work I have done in the Senate; 30 years promoting health care in the Bronx,” Espada said.
And he wouldn’t explain why he dropped three years of angry insistence that he was innocent and the media was out to get him.
Pedro Espada is due back in court on Feb. 22, when he faces up to seven years and three months in jail.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who initially investigated Espada as attorney general, said “Mr. Espada’s reaction was to lash out again and again and to falsely, disparage and accuse my office of engaging in a politically motivated witch hunt. Today, I give Mr. Espada the last word when he says ‘guilty.’”
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