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Pedro Espada Charged With Stealing

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I had hard time choosing where to post this story - under Politics or Crime & Punishement. My choice is obvious.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today announced a lawsuit against State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, charging that he and his family stole more than $14 million from his Bronx non profit.

The lawsuit alleges that for over five years, Espada "looted" the state- and federally-funded Comprehensive Community Development Corporation, also known as Soundview.

The organization was founded by Espada in 1978 with the purpose of providing health care to residents of the South Bronx.

Espada, who serves as the president and chief executive officer of the non-profit organization, is accused of diverting its charitable assets to his family, friends and his political operations.

The money was allegedly used for a wide variety of expenses including vacations, campaign bills and thousands of dollars in restaurant visits – many located in Westchester where critics charge Espada makes his primary residence. Funds were also allegedly used to pay the mortgage on Espada's Bronx apartment.

Nineteen current and former executives, which includes Espada's niece, daughter-in-law, boyfriend of his sister, two uncles and employees of the New York State Senate, were also named in the suit filed in New York State Supreme Court.

Cuomo says the majority leader packed the clinic's leadership with people who blindly followed his orders – and gave him an "extravagant" compensation package.

"This was not an independent objective board of directors; this was a packed board of directors filled with family or friends who Mr. Espada could control directly or indirectly," Cuomo said.

Cuomo's lawsuit aims to remove Espada and the officers of Soundview from the board. It also seeks to require Espada and Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Brennan to pay restitution and damages and attempts to nullify a $9 million severance package that Espada allegedly received.

Espada has repeatedly denied all charges and called the investigation politically motivated.

He came to power last year as one of the orchestrators of the State Senate coup, which briefly put the legislative body in Republican control.

Cuomo says the investigation is still ongoing and criminal charges could be forthcoming.

The expected gubernatorial candidate also ripped into the state political culture as a whole – saying the dysfunction in Albany is bi-partisan.

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Geoffrey Gloak

may be one of the few people you meet who is always glad to talk taxes. He has spent 17 years immersed in government communications – almost entirely in the tax field. He currently serves as the Director of Public Relations at the New York State Tax Department. In each of Geoff’s positions, he has created opportunities to transform the communications environment for the benefit of the organization. Under his leadership, Tax Department public relations have shifted from a reactive focus to proactive outreach. Most recently, Geoff led the STAR Registration media campaign to assist 2 million homeowners with property tax relief while eliminating fraud. As a result of extensive press outreach, more than 300 articles were printed in daily papers alone, and broadcast media repeatedly covered the story in each corner of the state. Less than 5 months after launch, 2.3 million homeowners had registered for their property tax exemptions. Geoff (@gloak23) lives in Kinderhook with his journalist wife, Kristi Berner (@kristiberner), and 4-year-old daughter, Gemma, who is now proud to be able to write her name.