By Tom Hays Associated Press
Friday hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court
A former state senator has continued to raid the bank account of a taxpayer-supported heath care network, even after a jury found him guilty of using the same clinics as a personal piggy bank, federal prosecutors said yesterday.
The prosecutors in Brooklyn leveled the allegations against Pedro Espada Jr. in court papers asking a federal judge to revoke his bail and put him behind bars. The judge had previously ordered the Bronx Democrat to keep out of the finances of the Soundview Healthcare Network while he awaits sentencing in the Brooklyn case and a separate trial on tax charges in Manhattan.
"That this should occur following the jury's verdict is not only galling, but it speaks to the defendant's utter lack of remorse or acceptance of responsibility for his crimes," the prosecutors wrote.
The judge set a hearing for Friday in federal court in Brooklyn.
A woman answering the phone for the lawyer representing Espada at trial said Wednesday that he was no longer a client. His attorney in the tax case said the former senator should remain free.
"There's never been a problem with him coming back to court and that's what bail is for," said the lawyer, Daniel Hochheiser.
At the trial ending with a conviction in May, prosecutors accused Espada and his son of orchestrating a fraudulent billing scheme to divert funds from the health network the politician started in 1978 to serve low-income patients in the South Bronx.
Jurors heard evidence that the Espadas used money intended for health care on birthday parties, theater, cars — even children's pony rides. The clinics were left to struggle with out-of-date machinery, major cash flow problems and few doctors.
After the Espadas were convicted, Soundview sold its remaining assets to another clinic for $600,000, prosecutors wrote in court papers. The very next day, about $350,000 was distributed to Espada, his relatives, lawyers and other companies he controls, they said.
The prosecutors argued that the transactions "show that the defendant is seeking to defeat any future forfeiture and restitution orders by preventing the government from attaching assets from a known bank account."