Updated 04/22/2010 07:02 PM
Cuomo Subpoenas State Senate In Espada Investigation
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State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has subpoenaed the State Senate for employee records as part of an ongoing investigation into State Senator Pedro Espada Jr.'s taxpayer-funded Bronx clinic.
State Senator Pedro Espada will appear as a guest on the NY1 political program "Inside City Hall" tonight at 7 and 10 p.m.
The subpoena calls for the release of hiring documents, time sheets, travel and expense records for 10 state employees connected to the Soundview Healthcare Network, which the state senate majority leader founded.
Records are being sought for John Feliciano, former special assistant to Espada; Marzetta Harris, Espada’s director of outreach; Monica Harris-Coleman; Richard St. Paul, counsel to Espada; Jeanette Torres, Espada’s office research manager and charity outreach coordinator; Andrew Yong, NYC director of community relations/policy analyst for minority community relations; Jerry Love, special assistant to housing; Daniel Pagano, general counsel; Ramona Lopez; and Joey Williams, administrative assistant to Espada.
Cuomo says his office is looking to "determine whether the misconduct reaches into the State Senate."
Authorities are reportedly building a case that could result in mail fraud, money laundering and tax fraud charges.
A team of FBI and IRS agents raided the Soundview on Wednesday, seizing boxes of payroll and time sheet documents.
On Tuesday, Cuomo filed a civil lawsuit accusing Espada and 19 other current and former employees of stealing $14 million from the clinic over five years. Cuomo claims Espada was using government funding for lavish vacations, expensive dinners, and even his own campaign.
Espada insisted the issues only affect him and said he will deal with the case accordingly.
"What counts here is 30 years, what counts here is the services, what counts here is the fact that the quality and the goodness of this place has been tarnished by the attorney general with a political motive," said the senator.
More politicians have called for Espada to abandon his post amid the growing investigation, including members of his own party are urging him to step aside.
"I'm a Democrat and I believe that the party's bigger than any individual,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Just like people who said that [Congressman] Charlie Rangel should have stepped down as Ways and Means chair, and he did the right thing for the betterment of the party, I think that as Majority Leader Pedro Espada should concentrate on his legal woes, and put the party before him and step down as majority leader."
Albany Democratic Senator Neil Breslin and Brooklyn Republican Martin Golden also called on Espada to step down as majority leader, a position he was given after leading last summer's coup.
Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson said Espada is entitled to his day in court.
Residents who rely on the clinics fear they will be left out in the cold.
The Soundview Clinic has been serving the community for some 30 years.
While residents say they're concerned about the allegations against Espada, one doctor who spoke with NY1 says he's worried what this could mean for his patients.
"What happens if they get rid of it? What happens if they clean out the whole caboodle? All the Espadas are gone. What's going to happen to the clinic?” asked Dr. Larry Chiaramonte, who works at the clinic. “People need to get served. You’re going to have to have someone come in, and still service the patients. So that's what I'm concerned about."
"Until the facts are provided, we cannot say if it’s true or not,” said a local. “[If he’s guilty], I think he should be punished to the full extent, then I think he should have to pay back all the money, out of his own pocket. That would be right for the community."
State officials say they have no plans to shut down the four clinics operating under the Soundview umbrella.