New Edition: Pedro Espada’s Guide to Non-Profit Profiteering


The indictment of state senator Pedro Espada Jr. and his son yesterday on federal embezzlement and conspiracy charges makes a pretty good guide for how to pick a nonprofit pocket:

-For starters there’s creative Amex card use: Espada’s own lousy credit rating made him ineligible for the Don’t-Leave-Home-Without-It club. No problem: Have your publicly funded health clinic’s financial officer agree to serve as personal guarantor.-Reimbursement of personal expenses is always a tricky issue in the not-for-profit sector. Again, not a problem when you are Pedro Espada and bring creative thinking to the table: Since his personal employment contract allowed him eight weeks vacation and six weeks paid sick days, the CEO simply deducted unused leave time from his overflowing personal expenses.

-There is a marvelously thin line between business and personal, so be sure to interpret monthly statements as liberally as possible, checking off only those inescapably private costs.

  • Tickets to Jersey Boys? Vital for any clinic operator to find out why “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
  • Mamma Mia? Successful executives all study “Money, Money, Money.”
  • Mary Poppins? Domestic workers make up a major part of clinic clientele.
  • Kenny G concert tickets? This is an indictable offense, even if you’re paying for it yourself.

-Janitorial services, however, present a golden profit opportunity at any nonprofit. Espada’s own creative solution here was to run the custodial companies that cleaned his clinics. The income created served as perfect slush fund that can cover those ever-rising extra expenses:

  • Ghost writer for memoir? Check.
  • Suburban Westchester home air conditioning? Check.
  • Catering for family birthday party? Check.
  • Videotaping said birthday party? Check.
  • Pony from Bronx Equestrian Center for said party? Check.
  • Petting zoo for party? Check.
  • Bentley down-payment? Check.
  • Bad credit rating fix-up? Check.
  • Senate campaign materials? Check.
  • Rent for campaign HQ? Check.

We can only hope that the personal memoir assembled by Espada’s ghost writer surfaces among the pre-trial exhibits. Many in Albany, where Espada was today stripped of his majority leader status, are eager to see how they’re portrayed, especially Republican senators who are about to take control up there.

The charges stem from a joint probe by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. But despite this high prosecutorial fire-power, Espada should not be counted out. The ex-boxer is represented by one of the city’s megawatt defense firms, Hafetz Necheles & Rocco, part of the same team that beat an state indictment in the Bronx a decade ago.