Representative Rangel Under Scrutiny About Beach House

September 5, 2008

Rep. Charles Rangel paid no mortgage interest on a beach resort property for about 15 years, a lawyer for the powerful House committee chairman said Friday.

The New York congressman’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told The Associated Press that Rangel got his no-interest deal for the villa in the Dominican Republic because he was an original buyer in the resort development.

The Democratic chairman of the Ways and Means tax-writing committee has come under scrutiny for his vacation property and apartments he rents in his home district of Harlem.

Davis said Rangel failed to report rental income from the resort property on his taxes, but didn’t realize it was necessary because of the way the deal was structured.

Davis said it is unlikely the congressman owes any back taxes under the federal tax code, although he may owe a small amount to New York State, on unreported rental income of about $75,000.

“It is my understanding that over the 20-year time period there is not likely to be federal tax liability by Mr. Rangel because of offsetting depreciation expenses and tax credits. Therefore, whatever amendments might be necessary do not involve the federal tax code,” said Davis.

Republicans call Rangel ethically challenged and have sought to censure the 78-year-old lawmaker. Even an unintentional tax error is highly embarrassing for Rangel, since he chairs the committee charged with updating the nation’s complicated tax code.

News of Rangel’s no-interest mortgage comes on the heels of damaging reports that two other powerful figures in Congress, Senators Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., got preferential mortgages with lower interest rates through a “VIP” program for friends of former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Dodd heads the Senate Banking Committee.

Rangel bought the beach house 20 years ago for about $80,000, with a down payment of $28,000. Instead of making payments himself for the property, Rangel used his share of collective rental money generated by the resort to pay down the mortgage, according to his lawyer. But in an arrangement with the developer, Rangel and other early buyers, called “Pioneers,” were not charged interest on such debt.

Rental income from the property was used directly to pay the mortgage, so Rangel never made any mortgage payments himself, Davis said. Only once, in 2001, did Rangel receive money directly, when the company mistakenly wired him $2,000 in rental income rather than applying that, as it had before and after, to the mortgage.

The mortgage debt of slightly more than $50,000 was paid off fully in 2003, Davis said, and rental income was also used later to pay for a $22,000 home improvement project. That second loan did include interest payments totaling about $1,100, the lawyer said.

The congressman’s personal finances have come under scrutiny and spawned a House ethics committee inquiry, leading to a showdown last month on the House floor between Rangel and Republicans.

The ethics committee is examining Rangel’s use of four rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, including one that was used for campaign work. This week, the New York Post raised questions about Rangel’s beach villa, which it dubbed his “cash cow.” The New York Times reported Friday that Rangel failed to report rental income on the property.

Rangel’s lawyer said he received no sweetheart deal or favoritism in purchasing or renting out the beach house, because it was essentially a financial investment made in a real estate development project.

Currently, Rangel owes no money on the property and has about a $700 credit, Davis said.

“He invested $100,000 over 20 years with a net return of .7 percent as of June 2008,” said Davis. “Some cash cow.”

Yet by their accounting, Rangel parlayed a $28,000 down payment into a vacation home worth ten times that or more today – not unheard of over a 20-year period of real estate boom-and-bust cycles, but certainly very fortunate.

Article by Devlin Barrett

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Selling Stolen Bras On EBay Is Not Legal According to NY Police

September 3, 2008


A New York man has been charged with selling $80,000 worth of stolen Victoria’s Secret bras online. Prosecutors say 41-year-old George Tutaya was arraigned Tuesday on charges of possessing stolen property. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. A telephone call to his attorney hasn’t been returned. Prosecutors say Tutaya used eBay auction and PayPal payment accounts to sell the brassieres for about $25 each. The bras retail for $40 to $80. Prosecutors say records recovered at Tutaya’s home in Queens link him to the sale of more than 2,000 bras. They say another 650 stolen bras were recovered in his home.

Article from Associated Press

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Junior Gotti Indicted On Cocaine and Murder Charges

August 5, 2008

John A. “Junior” Gotti has been indicted on conspiracy charges in Florida, linking him to large-scale cocaine trafficking and the slayings of three New York men in the late 1980s and early ’90s, federal officials said Tuesday.

Federal prosecutor Robert O’Neill announced the indictment of the 44-year-old Gotti and five other men at a news conference. He said the indictment showed that the men were “trying to gain a foothold” in the area.

“I think what you have here is the Gambino crime family reaching out to Tampa, Fla.,” said O’Neill.

Gotti – the son of the late Gambino family crime boss John Gotti – was arrested at his Long Island, N.Y., home and is expected to appear later Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. O’Neill said the slayings occurred in 1988, 1990 and 1991.

If convicted, Gotti faces life in prison.

“They tried very hard to convict him up here. They spared no resources and it didn’t work,” said Gotti’s attorney, Charles Carnesi. “It’s tragic for him and his family to have to continually go through this. It’s almost laughable.”

In 1999, Junior Gotti pleaded guilty to racketeering crimes including bribery, extortion, gambling and fraud. He was sentenced to 77 months in prison and was released in 2005.

Gotti also was tried three times in Manhattan on racketeering charges for an alleged plot to kidnap Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. The trials in 2005 and 2006 ended in hung juries and mistrials.

Federal prosecutors announced at the time that they were giving up – and Gotti said he had long since retired from his life of crime.

Article by CHRISTINE ARMARIO and TOM HAYS


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Court Orders Kid To Apologize For Dressing As Penis

July 17, 2008

A judge in Saratoga, New York, has ordered 19-year-old Calvin Morett to write an apology to a the city of Saratoga Springs in New York for dressing in an offensive Penis-costume at a high school graduation after he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for dressing in a 6-foot penis costume at the graduation at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. A video of his visit last month has appeared on YouTube.

The judge has also ordered Morett to pay to have the apology published in a local newspaper, pay court fees and perform 24 hours of community service.

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Woman Falls Facefirst in Hospital and Goes Unhelped and Dies

July 1, 2008


A video released Monday by lawyers suing Kings County Hospital shows a woman dying on the floor of a psychiatric emergency room while people nearby ignore her.

The lawsuit alleges neglect and abuse of mental health patients at the facility. The video shows the 49-year-old woman keeling over and falling out out of her chair on June 19. She lies facedown, thrashes about, and goes unattended for an hour before someone even realized was had happened and helped.

The agency that runs the municipal hospital, the city’s Health and Hospitals Corp., fired several staffers as a result.

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Grand Theft Auto IV… REVIEW

April 28, 2008

I was rolling through the neon deluge of a place very like Times Square the other night in my Landstalker sport utility vehicle, listening to David Bowie’s “Fascination” on the radio. The glittery urban landscape was almost enough to make me forget about the warehouse of cocaine dealers I was headed uptown to rip off…. (OH YEAH!)

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CNN’s Richard Quest Playing With Ropes

April 22, 2008

This is VIDEO of the The CNN anchor (Richard Quest) that got arrested in Central Park with a bag of methamphetamine and a rope around his neck and genitals. HERE, HE IS PLAYING WITH A ROPE! Did he do this in the park?

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