State Senator Pedro Espada Jr and 18 members of the Comprehensive Community Development Corporation in Soundview, Bronx have been accused by the Attorney General of misdirecting $14 million in tax payers funds into the hands of family and friends. In addition, the Majority leader used the grants to pick up tabs for restaurants, vacations and even pay steep campaign expenses. The Senator defends his innocence arguing that the CCDC is being targeted as a political lighting rod for Andrew Cuomo’s corruption campaign.
While Espada may claim that federal audits can be accepted as seals of fiscal integrity, reason is stretched when a not-for-profit would rack up sushi bills of $20,000 while funding is being cut for health awareness events, extending mobile offices or providing care for the homeless. In this case, though, it is much worse than confusing: it is a corrupt use of tax payer money. I believe that it is now clear from the filing yesterday that there is a pattern of exploitation by Senator Espada and the executive board at Soundview Health Center carried out for many years.
The claim that a severance package was created for Espada, a package that could possibly bankrupt the center if it was ever used, proves that the organization was Pedro’s piggy bank and that the welfare of the affected neighborhoods came second. The Center should follow the lead of other health centers working to stay afloat and create a long-term health plan “post-Espada”, then maybe their work would finally be about providing affordable healthcare and not padding the Board’s pockets.