NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr., recently sued by Andrew Cuomo, on Friday termed the New York attorney general "the prince of darkness."
Espada made the comment while talking to Rosanna Scotto of Good Day New York. Espada, a Democrat who serves as not-for-profit Soundview's president and CEO, is alleged to have diverted charitable assets, using the money for himself, his family, friends and political operation
"This is a witch hunt by the prince of darkness himself," Espada told Scotto.
"First and foremost, I want to tell the tens of thousands of patients of the Soundview Health Clinic that their doctors and nurses are there. The doors are open. We're open for business."
Cuomo alleges in a lawsuit filed this week that Espada has siphoned more than $14 million from Soundview in the past five years, including an unconditionally guaranteed severance package worth an estimated $9 million that was put into a contract signed in 2005.
The transactions were approved by the Soundview Board, which is packed with family, friends and Senate employees of Espada, and the not-for-profit's chief financial officer, Cuomo claims.
"Taxpayer money was given to this not-for-profit to provide healthcare services to underprivileged patients, but our investigation has found the funds flowed into the pockets of Sen. Espada and his supporters," Cuomo said.
"Siphoning money from a charity would be egregious under any circumstances, but the fact that this was orchestrated by the State Senate Majority Leader makes it especially reprehensible."
Cuomo's claims that, in addition to the $9 million severance package that unconditionally guarantees the payment of one year's gross pay for every year of service, approximately $80,000 in restaurant bills for 650 separate meals was paid by Soundview for Espada or his supporters. Included in that amount was $20,000 in regular orders from Espada's wife from two sushi restaurants that were delivered to the Espada home in Mamaroneck, Cuomo says.
Trips for Espada, his wife and his family to Las Vegas, Miami and Puerto Rico, purported to be business trips, were also paid for by Soundview, which provided Espada with a corporate American Express card, Cuomo claims. More than $450,000 was charged by Espada on items he identified as personal from 2006 through mid-2009, Cuomo claims.
Improper funding of Sen. Espada's political operations is also alleged.
"What I'm going to do is expose who he is," Espada said. "We need to vet this man's character. He can't get in here just because his last name is Cuomo. We're going to fight for my family's good name name and for the institution of Soundview Health Center."
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.