Friday, October 12, 2012 at 8 a.m.
Sometimes, you have to just give in (to charges of embezzlement).
When State Senator Pedro Espada was charged by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in May 2010 with stealing $400,000 from a Bronx clinic
that he helped set up, the Democratic powerhouse, like any politician, fought passionately for his reputation of innocence. His attorneys called the charges 'rotten to the core
' and the Senator argued that he was being accused out of political strategy.
This all came to fruition yesterday, when the Daily News reported
that the 'disgraced' ex-State-Senator and his same-name son, Pedro Espada, would plead guilty today in Brooklyn Federal Court. However, by examining the decline of the Senator's argument and counsel in the lead-up to this decision, it was evident that it was only a matter of time.
The first hit was kind of the second hit. After the accusation of fraud in May 2010, Espada rode off the argument that he was just a 'non-profit executive who delivered good services for the money,' as former Voice scribe Tom Robbins wrote. His Bronx clinic, whether it was committing an illegal act or not, was simply a private business and nothing more.
But then came another
punch to the stomach: the Cuomo administration dropped
a second lawsuit on Espada, accusing the already-in-trouble State Senator of running a phony job training program, in which he would induct maintenance workers 'to train' for another job in the future when really the only work they were assigned to do was to clean the toilets in the health clinic. Now, Espada had two legal illnesses to recover from - he will be dealing with the latter one in Manhattan Federal Court next month.
Then came the abandonment. After Attorney Daniel Hochneiser examined the two cases in front of him, he hesitated and submitted an order
to get the hell out of Dodge at the end of last month. But to no avail: the judge ordered
that the attorney must power through this client because, after the legal fees, Espada was broke. The Voice
reached out to Mr. Hochneiser to ask why his client suddenly gave up in the face of the year-long accusations but never heard back. Regardless, It doesn't look too great to a jury when even your lawyer is saying, in better ways than none, "Get me the hell out of here."
Now, it looks as if Espada has come to the end of the line. As of now, he faces ten years of jail - that might change because of the guilty plea - and it's still unclear what his son's involvement will land him. Also, he has to keep in mind one thing: he's gotta be back in a month for his tax evasion hearings.
The law (and sweet justice) can really hurt sometimes. Especially for, to quote Mr. Robbins again, "Albany's greatest scoundrel."