Pedro Espada Clinic Gets Uninvited Visitors: FBI, IRS, Feds
How bad are the financial hijinks by that scalawag state senator Pedro Espada cited in yesterday's civil suit against him by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo? Well, here's one measure: Now they're trying to make a federal case out of it.
This morning a dozen FBI and IRS agents descended on Espada's lucrative power base, the Soundview Healthcare Center in the east Bronx, and are hauling out boxes. On the scene reports say agents got right to work before 9 a.m., using bolt cutters to open a 8-by-25-foot storage container. Writes the AP's Jim Fitzgerald: "They also stacked boxes on the grass, and agents wearing blue or green gloves leafed through the contents and wrote notes.
FBI spokesman Jim Margolin says it's a criminal probe, but declined to name the target. It's not a mystery, however. Espada yesterday tore into Cuomo after he announced his lawsuit claiming that the Senate majority leader has larded both his senate staff the board of his big nonprofit clinic with relatives and cronies who rubberstamped deals that gave Espada some $14 million in perks and severance.
Espada called the lawsuit "a litany of mischaracterizations and falsehoods," saying it was political payback for his dalliance with Senate Republicans that put the legislature into gridlock last summer.
With the feds in the picture, however, the case gets considerably more serious. The plan apparently calls for the AG and Brooklyn federal prosecutors to work jointly on a criminal probe that could result in racketeering charges against Espada, using federal mail fraud statutes.