State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. is under fire again, facing new probes involving his ties to a shady consulting firm, sources said.
Federal prosecutors are also looking at the involvement of G. Steven Pigeon, Espada's Senate counsel.
Investigators are attempting to explain payments made to a Bronx business that may have ties to Espada by a Town of Niagara Company, reported The Buffalo News. The embattled Bronx Democrat already faces investigation by State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo concerning his private health care agency.
And government investigative officials confirmed to the Buffalo News an earlier report that the U.S. attorney's office is carrying out a tax and money laundering probe of Espada.
This probe now includes Pigeon, the former chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, who now serves on Espada's Senate payroll at $150,000 a year.
In addition to the probe upstate, the Daily News reports that Espada may have used a shadowy consulting firm, A-1 Multi-Service LLC, to dodge contract taxes for himself and those close to him. The News also reports that probers are looking into whether A-1 was used to hide gains from others ventures, sources said.
The upstate company that federal prosecutors are investigating is GDP Consulting, a limited liability company, said The Buffalo News. State records show the company was created last July 23, located at 7305 Porter Road, Niagara Falls.
The address is also some to the Parenti Accounting Group. The Buffalo News said that Jerry Parenti, chairman of the accounting business, is the father of Gary D. Parenti, a longstanding political associate of Pigeon.
While state election board donation reports show campaign contributions - mostly to the Democratic Party - by the Parenti Accounting Group, ties from Gary Parenti to the GDP aren't clear, said The Buffalo News.
The Buffalo News could not reach Gary Parenti for comment. Pigeon may have ties to the GDP, but the connection isn't clear at this time, said The Buffalo News, who also could not reach Pigeon for comment.
Espada, at the center of the investigation, did not return calls to both The Buffalo News and the Daily News for comment. Espada's attorney, Dan Pagano, told the Daily News that "he was at a baseball game and didn't have time to talk."
State records say that A-1 is located at 2384 Hughes Ave., a Bronx address with 12 apartment units and a cigar show called Cuban Cigar Lounge.
The owner of the building, Salvatore Dimaggio, that he had never heard of A-1, reported the Daily News.
Investigators are reportedly looking for any information involving the "tens of thousands" of dollars made in consulting payments by GDP to A-1, said The Buffalo News. The report also states an unidentified GDP "spokesman" saying the company has contracts with the consulting firm, including health care and efforts to bring a national lottery to Puerto Rico, reported The Buffalo News.
These current investigations add to Espada's past probes, including pork barrel funding and a health care agency he founded in the Bronx. Federal prosecutors have also recently subpoenaed documents from the Bronx Democrat and other State Senate leaders involved with a deal for a downstate racetrack casino contract.
Cuomo is still examining potential fraud, tax, and election law issues concerning Espada and his leadership of Soundview HealthCare Network, a group of health clinics. Espada has been open about his dismissal of the Cuomo probe, and said the attorney general is using him as a "political pinata."