Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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NY1 Exclusive: Employees Claim Espada's Health Clinic Does Not Provide Routine Services

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The Brooklyn jury in former State Senator Pedro Espada's fraud trial is having trouble reaching a verdict, as the jurors alerted the judge in a note Wednesday that one of them has refused to participate in deliberations.

The jurors said this one juror said that his or her mind had been made up since deliberations began on Monday.

Espada and his son are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Soundview Health Care Clinic in the Bronx.

In response to the note, the judge dismissed the jurors for the day and planned to address the jury Thursday morning.

This came as the Soundview medical facility, which serves about 20,000 patients, appeared to be on the brink of closure.

In a statement, Soundview Health Care Clinic officials said they stopped seeing most patients as of Wednesday and they were suffering from "cash flow issues."

Espada said that the clinic has had to lay off about 100 employees in the last six weeks.

Some Soundview employees told NY1 that they have not received paychecks for two weeks.

By Wednesday, the facility is still seeing some emergency psychiatry and dental patients, as well as gastroenterology and podiatry patients.

Other Soundview patients were being told to go to a local emergency room for any immediate problems.

In an exclusive interview with NY1 on Wednesday, two Soundview employees, who wanted their identities concealed, said conditions at the clinic are horrible.

"A lot of services that we would generally be able to provide were not there. There were many times when we weren't able to provide vaccines, we weren't able to provide routine services," said one employee.

"The staff, that have not been able to receive financial... they work these hours, they physically came into work everyday and they still are, they haven't received a penny and all they're receiving is a promise," said the other employee.

Talking to reporters Wednesday, Espada blamed Governor Andrew Cuomo for the clinic's money troubles, claiming that Soundview is owed Medicaid funding but the state's Department of Health will not pay.

"He's worse than 'The Steamroller' [former Governor Eliot Spitzer]. He has no moral compass. He operates in the shadows, he never comes out," said Espada.

The clinic was slated to lose the Medicaid money earlier this year but several court orders delayed the cutoff. Espada called it a coordinated attack.

"Criminal activity is when people, like the governor, and his commissioner of the Department of Health and others in the HMO industry, get together and say 'Don't pay Soundview,'" Espada claimed to reporters. "They're in contravention of the law, they have jeopardized people's health, and in fact people may die as a result of their actions."

The governor's office would not comment directly on Soundview, saying in a Wednesday statement, "Out of respect for the jury process, we will have no comment while this federal criminal matter is pending."

Meanwhile, those who rely on Soundview for medical care were concerned for the clinic's future.

"I don't really follow the politics like that. I don't know what's going on. All I know is we need this here, man. This is something for the community," said Ray Gonzalez, a patient from the local community.

If convicted, Espada faces up to 15 years behind bars. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP