Pedro Espada sent letters to workers at his perenially-investigated Soundview Healthcare Network in October instructing them to “immediately” contact Soundview lawyers Hafetz & Necheles if they’re contacted by law enforcement in any form. Espada claims he was just letting his employees know that they had access to legal representation if they felt they needed it.
According to the Post, some workers are concerned that the letter is connected to multiple current investigations of Espada, including one by the Attorney General’s office looking into the possibility that Espada used employees of Soundview, a non-profit he controls, to work on his political campaigns. Bronx DA Robert Johnson is separately investigating Espada and Soundview. NYPIRG’s Blair Horner agreed that the letter might be intended to “shut up potential whistleblowers.”
In fairness to Espada, the last three Soundview employees convicted of diverting funds and food intended for sick babies and AIDS patients to the use of Espada’s political campaigns were represented on Soundview’s dime by Hafetz and Necheles.
The Department of Labor’s beefed up whistleblower law goes into effect this week. According to State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith, “It is outrageous that workers would be fired or otherwise punished for reporting violations of the law to the government. My message to employers who would retaliate against workers for coming forward is simple: don’t do it. Workers have a right to speak to the government, and if we learn that you punished them for talking to us, you will be facing serious and certain penalties, to the fullest extent of the law.”