The U.S. Attorney’s Office tried to get former state Sen. Pedro Espada thrown in jail for profiting from the sale of his Soundview Health Center after he was convicted of stealing from it, saying it violated conditions of his bail.
But a judge would not move to cuff the infamous politician because, he said, smoke does not prove fire.
After being convicted of stealing more than $400,000 from Soundview in May, Mr. Espada profited from the June sale of Soundview’s medical equipment and the right to its lease to the Institute for Family Health.
Soundview sold those assets for $600,000, and according to the government, Soundview’s CEO Alejandro Espada, the senator’s son, obtained cashier’s checks and distributed more than $350,000 to himself, his father, his brother, his father’s lawyer and a dormant company controlled by his father.
The government argues that this was one last heist by Mr. Espada and it violated the conditions of his bail, which said he could not participate in Soundview’s affairs.
But on Sept. 21, Judge Frederic Block said he could not revoke Mr. Espada’s bail and toss him in jail because there is no proof that Mr. Espada — who handed over control of his nonprofit to his son just before the trial — orchestrated the payoff.
“I agree with you,” Mr. Block told U.S. Attorney Carolyn Pokorny. “This thing has an odor to it.”
But, Mr. Block said, he is constrained by the law and there is nothing proving that the payments were not authorized by the Soundview Board of Directors. He said receiving money did not necessarily mean that Mr. Espada was pulling strings.
“Logic dictates that the defendant owes money to Soundview, not the other way around,” read the U.S. Attorney’s request to revoke bail.
Ms. Pokorny asked Judge Block if he had ever seen a victim pay the legal fee of someone who was convicted of stealing from that same party. She argued that Soundview owed at least $2 million to “innocent” third parties, including medical supply companies, and approximately $1 million to the IRS in payroll taxes, yet none of the money went to pay off those debts.