News & Politics

Pedro Estrada Gets Last Word In Feud With Andrew Cuomo: “Guilty.” Former Senator Faces 43 Years In Prison

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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.'”

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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