New York - Feds Raid Espada's Bronx Office
Investigators raided the office of Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. early Wednesday morning to remove documents and campaign-related material as part of several ongoing investigations into the Bronx Democrat.
CBS 2 HD has learned that authorities descended on the Soundview Health Center on White Plains Road around 6:30 a.m.
Investigators from the FBI, IRS and Attorney General's office collaborated in the effort and retrieved boxes of evidence.
The raid comes the morning after jaw-dropping charges were levied against Espada.
The state Senator is charged with spending $14 million in charitable assets on political campaigns, fancy trips and fine food.
Espada's gargantuan appetite for sushi from two Mamaroneck restaurants apparently ended up giving him a massive case of political indigestion.
According to the attorney general the Espadas ordered $20,000 worth of sushi -- 200 individual meals -- that was delivered from the restaurants to the Mamaroneck house about a mile away.
CBS 2 HD first told you that Espada, seen on video hiding from us in an orange ski hat outside his $700,000 Mamaroneck home, didn't live in his Bronx district.
"I think it would be a fairly safe assumption that if he was ordering meals in Mamaroneck and the meals were being delivered to the home in Mamaroneck he was in the home in Mamaroneck," Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.
On Tuesday Cuomo said the meal expenses were among some $14 million looted from the Soundview Health Clinic Espada runs in a poor neighborhood of the Bronx.
The civil complaint filed by the attorney general charged Espada with using Soundview money for:
* Family trips to Las Vegas, Miami and Puerto Rico.
* A housing allowance for a Bronx condo so he could "claim" to live there and run for office.
* A $9 million severance package if he loses his post at Soundview for any reason.
And 150,000 pieces of campaign literature like the ones CBS 2 HD reported last year that were never reported to campaign authorities as required by law.
In an exchange between CBS 2 HD and the state senator, Espada, when asked why he didn't file campaign reports, accused CBS 2 HD of being "disrespectful."
"It is outrageous," Cuomo later said.
Patients at Soundview feel the same way.
"That's horrible. It's terrible. It shouldn't happen because this is a clinic for people that is low income. I don't think its right," said Mildred Granados of the South Bronx.
"That's horrible. That's terrible because we really need services here," added Cheryl Curry of Clason Point.
"I think the whole thing is a big game. They ought to just get rid of all these politicians and replace them with people who are down to earth and willing to do the right thing by the people," Anthony Bernardo added.
Espada had this to say:
"There should be no rush to judgment until the facts emerge," Espada said. "I would like to remind everyone, including my fellow elected officials, that just like you I deserve the opportunity to address this complaint, this civil complaint, in the proper forum.
"(Cuomo) had to find something, not because he was duty bound to find something, because politically he had to find something," Espada said.
Attorney General Cuomo said that while civil charges were filed Tuesday he expects criminal charges would be filed soon. "Stay tuned," he said.
Despite the charges Espada said he intends to run for re-election from the Bronx.