Health

NY Senator Steals More than $14 Million from Community Health Clinics

| by Toni Brayer MD

Citizens are outraged at the New York State Senate majority leader, Pedro Espada, Jr. (Democrat), who has been charged with stealing more than $14 million from nonprofit health care clinics and using that money for apartments, Mercedes-Benzes, meals, vacations and campaign expenses. Mr. Espada founded the organization and stacked its board with relatives and Senate employees. The foundation board includes two uncles, his sister's boyfriend and two daughters-in-law, along with 5 past or current members of his staff.

According to the New York Times, it appears the looting has been going on for years, and an outside accounting firm noted in 2007 that they were directed to ensure that Mr. Espada and his family were paid before any other financial obligations were met, including the clinics' rent and utilities. The clinics failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes, even as they handed out millions of dollars to Mr. Espada. The non-profit clinics received their financing from federal and state governments (Medicare, Medicaid). Our taxes!

The phony board approved the Senator a $9 million severance package, which far exceeds the clinics' net assets, leaving the network insolvent.

Good work by attorney general Cuomo for filing a civil suit, but this is one we should track and make sure it is more than window dressing. A civil suit is fine, but criminal charges are warranted for this outrageous theft. No plea bargaining allowed...jail him and throw away the key.