Controversial State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. was indicted by a Brooklyn grand jury on embezzlement and conspiracy charges, along with his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, according to a statement by the United States Attorney’s Office released on Tuesday.
Both men are charged with five counts of embezzlement — to the alleged tune of more than $500,000 — and one count of conspiracy. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count of embezzlement and five years for the conspiracy count. It could amount to 55 years behind bars.
A 17-page indictment from U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch details the ways in which Espada and his son allegedly used their nonprofit healthcare network, Soundview, which receives $1 million a year in federal funding, to the financial benefit of themselves and their family and friends — accusations first made by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a civil lawsuit this spring.
Espada, who represents the 33rd Senate District, which stretches from Norwood to Tremont, allegedly used Soundview’s corporate credit card to pay for things like $100,000 in meals and tickets to Broadway shows.
The indictment also accuses Espada and his son of setting up a for-profit janitorial company to which they diverted funds from Soundview and used for their own personal and political expenses.
Their purchases, according to the statement, include a petting zoo and pony rides at a family member’s birthday party, an attempted down payment for a Bentley automobile and the rent for Espada’s campaign headquarters on Webster Avenue, among others.
“The indictment alleges that funds that could and should have been applied to purchase medical equipment and enhance health care services for an historically under-served population were diverted by the defendants for their personal use and to benefit friends and family members,” Lynch said.
The Senate Majority Leader has been unusually quiet since his primary loss to political newcomer Gustavo Rivera in September, and failed to appear at two special legislative sessions in Albany last month.
But on Tuesday, hours before the announced indictment, Espada released a puzzling and extensive 34-page report of what he considers to be his “achievements,” during his two years in office in the 33rd Senate District.
In the document, Espada claims responsibility for things like enacting term limits for legislative leaders, sparing free student MetroCards from MTA cuts, and leading “a sweeping and uncompromising ethics reform agenda,” in the State Senate.
At press time, both Espada and his son were expected to appear before a federal judge in Brooklyn on Wednesday, Dec. 15.