Cuomo continues legal assault on N.Y. Senate majority leader

By John O'Brien | Apr 28, 2010


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed another lawsuit against state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr.

Cuomo's latest lawsuit, announced Wednesday, alleges Espada and his son violated labor laws by creating a sham job-training program. That program allegedly shortchanged state coffers and cheated workers.

Cuomo sued Espada last week over his role at the non-profit health care services provider Soundview.

"Espada ripped off his own community in order to maximize the amount of money he could siphon out of the Soundview clinic, according to our complaint," Cuomo said.

"The Espada business model at Soundview appears to have been based on lies and deceit, abusing hardworking people for profit and cheating the state out of tax dollars."

Cuomo alleged last 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.

In return, Espada, a Democrat, called Cuomo "the prince of darkness."

In his new lawsuit, Cuomo claims Espada lured workers into the job-training program with false promises of jobs. He claims at least 100 workers have been victimized since 2005.

Certificates given out upon completion of the program were also worthless and misleading, Cuomo claims. He said the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations did not authorize Espada to use its initials on the certificates.

The state of New York was also harmed by the program, Cuomo claims. He said no pay stubs existed, no state unemployment taxes were paid, no tax deductions were made and no Workers' Compensation coverage was obtained.

A NY1 report cited sources who said Cuomo planned to announce his candidacy for governor this week but has postponed doing so because of the publicity his first lawsuit against Espada has received.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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