Federal Authorities Raid Espada's Nonprofit

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Federal authorities raided the Bronx health clinic run by New York State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr., just one day after New York's attorney general accused him of siphoning $14 million from it.

About a dozen F.B.I. and I.R.S. agents removed items from a large storage container behind Soundview HealthCare Network and stacked boxes on the grass, leafing through their contents and writing notes. An FBI spokesman said the search was part of an ongoing investigation.

Espada has denied the civil charges that he siphoned money from Soundview, the Bronx nonprofit he founded, and has called Cuomo's charges a "litany of mischaracterizations and falsehoods. Espada, Jr. has said he's being punished for leading a Senate coup that caused a month-long gridlock in the Senate in 2009.

Espada says the money he and his sons obtained from Soundview is from from years of being on its payroll, and that he's "proud" to provide jobs to loved ones. He also he says the clinics employ hundreds of other people outside of his family.

Espada's fellow Senators are calling on him to step aside from his position as Majority Leader as the investigation continues. Manhattan Senator Eric Schneiderman says the charges are troubling and says Espada should give up his leadership position. Brooklyn State Senator Marty Golden, a Republican, agrees. He says he'll bring a resolution to the senate floor calling for him to step aside in the coming days.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has said that the money Espada "looted" includes arranging a $9 million severance package for himself, and charging hundreds of thousands of dollars on a corporate credit card for personal expenses. Cuomo said Espada, Jr. used the healthcare nonprofit  as his own personal piggy bank."It is outrageous," Cuomo said.

UPDATE SINCE THIS STORY WAS FIRST POSTED: This story was updated to include this morning's raid.

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