Big-spending state Senator didn’t skimp on the tip
By Adam Wisnieski
He was a good customer.
Seven restaurant managers testified last week that state Sen. Pedro Espada spent extravagant amounts of money on food using his Soundview Healthcare Network American Express card, according to news reports.
Three weeks into the federal trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office was still introducing witnesses to testify about being paid for services using money the prosecution claims Mr. Espada either embezzled or outright stole from the taxpayer-funded Soundview Healthcare Network.
The prosecution argued Mr. Espada charged thousands in personal expenses on the health network’s credit card and never reimbursed the not-for-profit.
Susan Necheles, Mr. Espada’s attorney, argued in opening statements that Mr. Espada was entitled to the money because it was part of his contract at Soundview. She also argued Mr. Espada spent all the money openly because he had nothing to hide.
Whoever the jury believes, one thing became abundantly clear last week: Mr. Espada likes seafood.
Mr. Espada spent thousands on meals that included shrimp scampi, salmon, lobster, crab and sushi at restaurants in New York City and Westchester.
A manager of the Empire Terrace restaurant at the Empire City Casino in Yonkers testified Mr. Espada spent more than $5,000 at the restaurant while he was in office between August 2007 and July 2009, according to news reports.
Restaurateurs testified Mr. Espada spent excessively on meals for himself and his family, racking up more than $1,000 bill at the Lobster House in City Island and eating out at least once a week at Toyo Sushi in Mamaroneck.
“He’s been a good customer for a while,” Peter Chen, owner of Toyo Sushi, testified, according to the New York Post.
Many of the witnesses testified that Mr. Espada was a very generous tipper, sometimes leaving more than 80 percent.