New York Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, are facing charges that they stole over half a million dollars from clients of their nonprofit health care network, according to a six-count federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.
A grand jury handed up the indictment of the 57-year-old Bronx Democrat and his 37-year-old son, charging them with five counts of embezzling from their nonprofit, the Soundview HealthCare Network. Since that nonprofit receives over $1 million a year from the Department of Health and Human Services and millions in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, the pair were also charged with one count of conspiring to steal government funds.
Espada and his son are accused of abusing their positions at Soundview in a series of schemes between 2005 and 2009 that diverted the nonprofit’s money for their own purposes. The charges are the result of a joint investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.
Prosecutors alleged that the elder Espada used the nonprofit’s money to pay for pony rides and a petting zoo at the birthday party of a family member and even tried to use a $49,000 check as a down payment on a Bentley.
The feds also say that between 2006 and 2009, Soundview even paid for over $23,000 in tickets for the Espadas to shows like Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys, Mary Poppins and the Radio City Music Hall Spectacular; tickets to Mets and Yankees games; and even seats at a Kenny G. concert.
Espada’s lawyer Susan R. Necheles told the New York Times that Espada and his son denied any wrongdoing and would fight the charges in court.
“Soundview has provided high quality health care to thousands of families, children and senior citizens in the Bronx,” Necheles said. “Today is a sad day for Soundview and a sad day for the Esapada family.”
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued Espada, alleging he funneled $14 million to his family and towards personal expenses over a five year period.
Read the indictment below: