Pedro Espada's son sentenced to six months in jail

Pedro Espada arrives at Federal Court in Brooklyn

Pedro Espada arrives at Federal Court in Brooklyn to be sentenced to five years for embezzling money from a social program. (June 14, 2013) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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The son of disgraced former State Senate leader Pedro Espada was sentenced to 6 months in jail Tuesday for his role in ripping off a family-controlled nonprofit Bronx health center despite a plea for leniency because he was under his father's thumb.

Former City Councilman and Assemb. Pedro Gautier Espada, 39, also was sentenced to 6 months of home confinement by U.S. District Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn. Last week, Block sentenced the defendant's father, Pedro Espada Jr., to 5 years in prison for looting the Soundview Health Center he controlled.

The son headed a janitorial company accused of siphoning money from Soundview. The same jury that last year convicted the father deadlocked on charges against the son, but Gautier Espada pleaded guilty to a tax charge and embezzlement.

His lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, told Block to be lenient because Gautier Espada's entire life had been "dictated" by his father, and his father was the "instigator" of the crimes. "It is impossible to untangle this mess that is the Espada family," she said. "It would have taken monumental strength to stand up to the father."

Gautier Espada told Block that unlike his father -- who continued to press for a new trial and refuse to admit his crimes at sentencing last week -- he regretted "the way things were done at Soundview."

"We have been at odds," he told the judge. "He has wanted to fight this more and I have wanted to take responsibility and move forward with my life."

Block called the father a "domineering" presence, but said he had to punish the theft of taxpayer money that funded Soundview. "Some jail time is indicated here because these were public moneys," he told Espada.

Gautier Espada's wife and brother were present in court, but his mother -- who attended her husband's sentencing last week -- was not. Shroff said he asked his mother not to come. Espada, who was given until August to report to jail, declined to comment as he left.

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