Espada successfully ran for state Senate in 2000 even as he was tried for siphoning $221,000 from an HMO to cover campaign debts. He was acquitted after arguing that he legally could do whatever he wanted with such funds.
Among the smaller schemes where the Espada name popped up was a hustle where a crony obtained a $95,000 state grant for a Puerto Rican heritage theater group to pay its rent. The money ended up in Espada's health care organization and campaign fund. The theater group was evicted for nonpayment.