Espada May Have Broken the Law at Clinic: Cuomo

State Attorney General files court papers suggesting Espada may have enriched himself at non-profit

By MICHAEL VIRTANEN
|  Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010  |  Updated 2:35 PM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Espada May Have Broken the Law at Clinic: Cuomo

AP/Getty Images

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says Sen. Pedro Espada may have run afoul of the law.

advertisement

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has found "extensive evidence of potential violations'' of state law by a state senator's Bronx health clinic and various officers and directors, according to court documents filed by his office.

Cuomo subpoenaed records in an investigation of state grants provided to the Soundview Health Care Network, a Bronx clinic for the poor founded by Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada.

A document filed Wednesday, in support of a proposed court order to force Soundview to answer the subpoena, says the nine-month probe shows apparent violations of New York's not-for-profit corporation law, including using money at a for-profit affiliate that benefited Espada personally.

Espada called the court filings a politically motivated witch-hunt by Cuomo, who is widely expected to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
    
"This is nothing new, just an angry, frustrated response by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whom we have already provided with tens of thousands of documents he has requested, and will continue to do so," said the Democratic senator from the Bronx. "This is an Andrew Cuomo witch-hunt driven by his political ambitions, as evidenced in the fact that our attorneys had to learn of this complaint through the media."
    
Espada accused Cuomo of treating "the state's highest ranking Hispanic elected official, as his personal political pinata."

According to Mitra Hormozi, Cuomo's deputy chief of staff, investigators also found apparent labor law violations by affiliate Espada Management Co. It was formed in 2007 and receives almost $400,000 a year to provide Soundview maintenance, though the janitorial labor costs are about half that figure. The company paid some of the Bronx Democrat's campaign finance expenses, which was not reported, and may be liable for election law violations or fraud, she wrote.

"Espada Management Company has refused to comply in any meaningful way with OAG's subpoena, thereby necessitating this motion to compel,'' Hormozi wrote. She acknowledged receiving two documents since September, showing some management fees and employee costs.

Espada's office had no immediate comment Wednesday. Espada is president of Soundview.

The attorney general said the investigation also involves possible violations by the organization's directors and officers of their fiduciary obligations.

Espada said last week he would provide any documents asked of him in the probe and he denied any wrongdoing in running the clinic and in his job as a lawmaker who can help direct state grants.

"It concerns me that anyone would want to play politics with this issue that is serious,'' Espada said. "I take ethics measures seriously.''

According to the attorney general, Soundview switched its contract for janitorial services from an in-house entity to Espada Management Co., technically an outside contractor wholly owned by Espada, though it shares Soundview space, doesn't pay rent and gets its supplies from the tax-exempt charitable organization.

After the change, the cost of janitorial services rose by about $130,000 a year, according to Cuomo's office. Also, the new custodian company has been collecting rents or usage fees from a pharmacy and entities such as Weight Watchers that use Soundview facilities for meetings.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Follow us on Instagram!
We post photos taken by our news... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out