Disgraced ex-Sen. Espada Jr. gets 5 years in prison

Disgraced ex-Sen. Espada Jr. gets 5 years in prison

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Former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. will spend five years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges.

A federal judge sentenced Espada on Friday in Brooklyn.

The once-influential politician also was convicted in a separate case alleging he looted taxpayer-subsidized health clinics.

Espada operated the clinics in the South Bronx for three decades until prosecutors accused him of turning the network into a personal ATM.

"The people of the Bronx trusted Pedro Espada, Jr. to have their best interests at heart. Instead, he abused that trust to the tune of more than half a million dollars," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "Under obligation to use the funds he received for the benefit of people sorely in need of quality health care, he chose instead to benefit himself and his family at their expense."

Speaking before the sentence was pronounced, Espada offered no signs of remorse. He instead talked about the clinics' history of providing care to poor New Yorkers.

A state-led investigation into Espada began under then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, who is now governor, called the sentence a "victory" for the people of the state.

"This sentence sends a clear and direct message that those who defraud this state's taxpayers will be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Cuomo said. "Today, justice was served."

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