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Pedro Espada Jr. federal trial begins Wednesday

March 14, 2012 6:06:36 AM PDT
Former state senator Pedro Espada Jr. is facing embezzlement charges involving his health care clinics in a federal trial.

Espada and his son have been accused of using state grants directed to the Soundview Health Center in the Bronx.

Authorities say the money was used to pay for Broadway tickets, a down payment on a Bentley and a birthday party pony. Prosecutors say the spending of more than $500,000 also included tickets for sporting events and concerts, posh restaurant tabs and a petting zoo.

Opening statements were likely to begin Wednesday following jury selection.

Espada has described the prosecution by the U.S. attorney's office and then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as a political "witch hunt." The charges ultimately cost him his state Senate seat.

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