- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf Espada Pleads Not Guilty, Predicts 'Complete Vindication' | Bronx News Networkbronx

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Espada Pleads Not Guilty, Predicts 'Complete Vindication'

Pedro Espada, pictured above with his wife, leaving a
federal courthouse in Brooklyn yesterday (photo by J. Evelly)
Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr.. and his son, Pedro G. Espada, were arraigned in a Brooklyn federal court yesterday  on criminal charges. Both men surrendered their passports and pleaded not guilty before the crowded courtroom, where their respective wives each posted $750,000 in bail for their release.

Judge Steven Gold said the Espadas are charged with "extremely serious crimes," that would put them in jail for "a very long time," if convicted.

Just how long of a time that might be is yet to be seen--the United States Attorney's Office said that, if convicted, the Espadas would face a maximum of 55 years, though experts predict an actual sentence would be much less.

Both men face five counts of embezzlement and one count of conspiracy for allegedly looting their network of taxpayer-funded nonprofit health care clinics, money they used to buy lavish gifts and meals for themselves and their families. You can read more details on their indictment here.

For Bronx residents in the 33rd State Senate District, the Espada debacle has a serious tinge of déjà vu--Espada's predecessor, Efrain Gonzalez, was indicted on very similar charges in 2006. At the time, Gonzalez could have faced a maximum of 30 years in prison. He was sentenced to seven years this June.

"Defendants very rarely ever get the maximum sentence," said Tony Barkow, of NYU School of Law's Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, who said Espada's federal trial could potentially draw out for years.

Espada also faces a separate civil suit brought against him this spring by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. That case would potentially mean hefty financial penalties, not jail time.
Espada speaks to reporters following his court arraignment (photo by J. Evelly)
After yesterday's arraignment, Espada, dressed in a navy blue suit with no tie, spoke briefly to a mob of reporters and TV cameras outside the courthouse. He denied any wrongdoing and said he had faith in the justice system.

“I look forward to a full and complete vindication in court,” he said.

Espada's lawyer, Susan Necheles, praised her client and talked up the Senator's role in founding Soundview, the very institution he stands accused of swindling.

"No one has done more for poor people in terms of providing health care in the Bronx," she said.

1 comment:

  1. Necheles's statement is an outrageous insult to many fine health care institutions in the Bronx.

    I noticed in other photos and videos in other publications that Bishop Fernando Rodriguez of the Latin/African American Chaplains Association was with Mr. Espada yesterday. Is anyone investigating his group's illegal endorsement of Espada during the primary? (As a registered 501(c)3 that was clearly prohibited.) Something for AG Schneiderman to take up in the New Year?


Bronx News Network reserves the right to remove comments that include personal attacks, name calling, foul language, commercial advertisements, spam, or any language that might be considered threatening, libelous or inciting hate.

User comments are reviewed by BxNN staff and may be included or excluded at our discretion.

If what you have to say is unrelated to this particular post, please visit our readers' forum.