Former New York legislator Pedro Espada Jr. was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling from a Bronx clinic network that he ran and lying on tax forms.
Espada, 59, was sentenced today at a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, by U.S. District Judge Frederic Block. The ex-state Senate majority leader had requested probation, citing his past health-care advocacy work in poor communities. He faced as long as 87 months in prison under non-binding federal guidelines.
“I do credit the good that you’ve done in the community, and the good deeds you’ve done in your past life,” Block said to Espada during the hearing.
A jury in Brooklyn convicted Espada in May 2012 of four counts of stealing from the now-defunct Soundview Healthcare Network. He was accused of embezzling more than $500,000 from the clinic network, which received as much as $1 million per year in public funding.
In October, Espada pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to a charge of filing a false tax return. Espada’s son, Pedro Gautier Espada, was also charged in the Brooklyn case. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on any of the counts against him. He pleaded guilty in October to misdemeanor theft of public money and failure to file a tax return.
“What I created as a young man was not a piggybank,” the elder Espada said during the hearing today, referring to the Soundview clinics. “You do as you want, your honor, because that is your job.”
He was also ordered today to pay $118,531 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and to forfeit additional funds. Block ordered that Espada, who has been free on bail, be sent immediately to jail after the sentencing. Prosecutors requested that he be taken into custody because he had contacted jurors in violation of a court order.
The Brooklyn case is U.S. v. Espada, 10-cr-985, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). The Manhattan case is U.S. v. Espada, 1:12-cr-00235, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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