THE BRONX - Former Bronx state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud charges last year.

He was also convicted of using his Soundview Healthcare Network in the Bronx as a personal piggy bank.

Espada could have faced a maximum sentence of seven years. The judge explained that he was sympathetic because Espada had put in many years of community service to the Bronx, and his crimes had to be balanced out with his positive impact.

Just last week, the one-time Senate majority leader said he took a lie detector test, which he claimed had proved that he did nothing wrong. Espada asked the judge to throw out his conviction and start over, claiming the judge violated the law by speaking with jurors behind closed doors while they were deliberating.

The judge struck down his claim Friday after going back through the records of his access card, which showed that he hadn't even been in the building when Espada alleged it had happened.

In addition to his jail sentence, Espada will also have to pay back all of the money he stole to the government, as well as perform 100 hours of community service.