A troubled former state senator already facing charges of siphoning $14 million from his non-profit health clinic — and spending $20,000 of that on sushi in Mamaroneck — could be facing a new charge after an ethics board accused him of illegally hiring his uncle.
Former Sen. Pedro Espada, a Bronx Democrat whom some had accused of living in Mamaroneck rather than in his district, was quietly hit with a “notice of reasonable cause” earlier this month by the Legislative Ethics Commission. (Kudos to the Times Union, which spotted the notice on the commission’s website.)
The commission — which includes four lawmakers and three appointees — found Espada violated the state’s public officers law by tapping Juan Feliciano, his uncle, for an $80,000-a-year job as a “special assistant” to Espada in January 2009.
Espada declined to speak to the commission, according to the document. He lost his re-election bid to Gustavo Rivera, also a Democrat, last year.
UPDATED: At 6 p.m., Espada issued a response through his non-profit group:
“The report generated and released by the Legislative Ethics Commission is false from beginning to end. It is indicative of the work created by a group recently deemed unnecessary and a waste of resources by legislative leaders and is particularly disheartening during time in which so many New Yorkers face real issues such as joblessness, a depressed economy and a need for delivery of vital services,” said Mr. Espada, former Senate President Pro Tempore and Majority Leader.
“It is my hope that the new Joint Commission on Public Ethics will take up real ethics violations such as the use of state owned assets by Governor Cuomo for private fundraisers, the closing of Community Health Centers due to personal political vendettas and the use of money from interest groups who do business with the State to fund television ads explicitly pushing the Governor’s agenda,” noted Mr. Espada.
Here’s the ethics board’s notice: