Federal authorities investigate N.Y. clinic

Associated Press / April 22, 2010

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NEW YORK — Federal authorities carted away campaign posters and cardboard boxes yesterday from a government-funded clinic run by the state Senate majority leader a day after New York’s attorney general accused him of siphoning $14 million from it.

Investigators were looking for evidence to support possible money laundering, mail fraud, and tax fraud charges against Senator Pedro Espada Jr., a law enforcement official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation had not been completed.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo confirmed that his office is assisting federal prosecutors in Brooklyn in a criminal probe against Espada.

His chief of staff, Steven Cohen, said potential charges against the senator could include fraud, theft of government funds, and conspiracy.

About a dozen FBI and IRS agents and investigators from Cuomo’s office were at the Soundview Healthcare Network in the Bronx, where a canopy above the front door lists Espada as its president and chief executive.

Agents used bolt cutters to open an 8-foot-tall, 25-foot-long storage container behind the building and removed Espada campaign posters and other items.

Espada, a Bronx Democrat, called the raids “a media circus, a media show’’ and said the accusations against him are “false and unfounded.’’