And Now a Possible Criminal Case
April 21st, 2010
The day after state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a civil suit against state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, the other shoe dropped. At a press conference in lower Manhattan today, Cuomo announced that his office and the U.S. attorney’s office had launched a criminal investigation of the Bronx state senator.
The announcement came hours after FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents executed a search warrant of Soundview HealthCare Network in the Bronx. Espada founded and runs SoundView, and according to the civil suit, siphoned off more than $14 million in the last five years.
As to what had changed in the last day, Cuomo said, “To the extent that a criminal investigation is more serious than a civil case, this is more serious.”
Dismissing Espada’s contentions that he is the target of a political vendetta — payback for his role in the so-called Senate coup last summer, Cuomo called Espada’s conduct “egregious.” Soundview, he said, was “receiving public funds, receiving tax dollars, to provide medical services to people who desperately needed it. It was not a playground for Mr. Espada.”
The joint investigation, Cuomo said, presents the “optimum scenario, the optimum situation.” While the attorney general said his office had enormous knowledge of the case surrounding Espada and Soundview, “federal laws often have advantages in this type of prosecution that state laws don’t bring.”
According to Steven Cohen, the nature of any charges Espada could face remain “theoretical” at this point, although he mentioned mail fraud, wire fraud, theft of government funds and conspiracy as possibilities.
Cuomo said the question of Espada’s residence — he is alleged to live in Mamaroneck while representing the Bronx, a violation of the residency requirements for members of the legislature — “is an issue that is being investigated.”By Gail Robinson on April 21, 2010, 2:17 pm
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