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U.S. Attorney Declares "Espada Era Is Over"

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Former State Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. and his son pleaded guilty Friday to tax fraud charges in connection with their Bronx healthcare clinic, which federal prosecutors say officially ends their scandal-plagued involvement. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

For Pedro Espada, his guilty plea was a stunning admission after vocally fighting all the charges against him and investigations into his conduct over over the years.

"With the guilty pleas of Pedro Espada Jr. and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, we can finally declare the Espada era is over," said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Espada pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false 2005 federal tax return for roughly $298,000. In reality, his income was much higher.

In May, he was convicted on four counts of theft but the jury deadlocked on the other four counts.

The jury also deadlocked on all eight counts against Pedro G. Espada. But on Friday, he, too, pleaded guilty.

"I think that role made people trust him," Lynch said. "And certainly, it made people in the community feel that he would look out for their interest in the health care field as well. That's what was so insidious about this and why it was really a double betrayal in our view."

Three years ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, then-State Attorney General, launched his own investigation into Espada's conduct running the health center.

In a statement shortly after the guilty plea Cuomo said of that investigation, "Mr. Espada's reaction was to...falsely disparage and accuse my office of engaging in a politically- motivated witch hunt. Today, I give Mr. Espada the last word - when he says 'guilty.'"

Espada and his son were facing a retrial next year on the criminal counts and a separate trial next month on tax evasion. The guilty pleas put an end to those cases.

"We have accepted responsibility and we're moving on with our lives," Pedro Espada Jr. said. "I am a husband, father and grandfather and my family is important in as much as they have always been there."

Under sentencing guidelines, Espada faces roughly six to seven years in prison on all five counts, including Friday's guilty plea. Pedro G. Espada faces no more than 24 months or two years. Both men are scheduled to be sentenced in February.

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