Pedro Estrada Gets Last Word In Feud With Andrew Cuomo: "Guilty." Former Senator Faces 43 Years In Prison
Governor Andrew Cuomo gets the last laugh in his ongoing spat with shamed former state Senator Pedro Espada -- Espada faces up to 43 years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzlement charges this afternoon.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Disgraced former state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada have had a fairly touchy relationship -- the gov accused Espada of being a criminal back when he was attorney general, and Espada charged that Cuomo was just an overzealous prosecutor on a witch hunt.
Today, as the governor puts it, Cuomo let Espada have the last word: "guilty."
"Nearly three years ago, my Attorney General's Office brought a case against then Senator Pedro Espada for looting his taxpayer-funded not for profit and abusing his position of public trust," Cuomo says in a statement issued this afternoon.
"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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And utter the word "guilty," he did.
Espada -- "Albany's greatest scoundrel," as dubbed by former Voice scribe Tom Robbins -- is looking at a fairly lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty in Brooklyn federal court this afternoon to charges that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bronx health clinics he ran to pay for things like pricey cars, home renovations, and spa treatments for his wife.
Espada's son, Pedro Gautier Espada, also pleaded guilty this afternoon -- although, he faces significantly fewer years in the clink.
With his guilty plea, Espada faces the possibility of 43 years in prison, will be forced to pay $2 million in restitution, and agrees to not appeal -- or otherwise challenge -- guilty verdicts reached by a federal jury in May.
Despite the verdicts, there was expected to be a retrial because the jury was deadlocked on several of the counts. Espada's guilty plea today ensures that no retrial will happen -- and one of the gloomier chapters in recent state political history is nearing an end.
If you're unfamiliar with the lengthy Espada saga, here's the gist: Espada used to be the CEO of Soundview Healthcare Center in the Bronx. The clinic served some of the borough's most under-privileged residents and received about $1 million a year from the federal government, as well as millions in medicare reimbursements and cash from the state.
Under the guise of a janitorial service he owned, Espada plundered thousands of dollars out of Soundview Healthcare to pay for various personal expenses. Additionally, he never reported the stolen money on his tax returns.
Today in court, Espada admitted to using the company credit card to pay for $10,000 in home renovations, $60,000 on restaurant bills and spa treatments for his wife and friends, and $20,000 on a four-day trip to Puerto Rico.
He also copped to using the stolen cash to buy a $60,000 GMC Yukon SUV for his wife, and plunk down a $20,000 down payment on a Mercedes.
According to the feds, Espada stole about $500,000 from Soundview.
Espada will remain a free man as he awaits sentencing, which likely will happen early next year.
His son faces up to two years in prison for his role in the scheme.
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