NBC 4 New York
Former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. was sentenced Friday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges. Andrew Siff reports.
Former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. was sentenced Friday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges.
Espada was handcuffed by U.S. Marshals and taken into custody. He touched two fingers to his lips and blew a kiss to his wife before being led away. He'll be held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn until the Bureau of Prisons determines where he'll serve time.
The once-influential politician also was convicted in a separate case alleging he looted taxpayer-subsidized health clinics.
Espada operated the clinics in the South Bronx for three decades until prosecutors accused him of turning the network into a personal ATM.
In Brooklyn court Friday, Judge Frederic Block said Espada has repeatedly shown "arrogance and a sense of entitlement" and used the Soundview Health Clinic as a "personal piggy bank."
Espada was convicted in May of plundering hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Soundview Health Network for personal use, but the jury deadlocked on all but four theft counts against him. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion in October, and that plea resolved pending charges in the looting case.
At his sentencing hearing, Espada stood by the guilty plea to tax evasion, but did not accept responsibility for looting taxpayer money from his nonprofits.
The former politician was at the center of the two most tumultuous years in the history of the state Senate and had described the 2010 indictment by the U.S. attorney's office and then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as a political "witch hunt." The scandal cost him his Senate seat.
Espada started Soundview in 1978 in the South Bronx, which is located in one of the poorest counties in the U.S. In the past three decades, the clinic grew to include four centers that provide health care and social services.