James Ortenzio Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

The former Manhattan Republican Chairman James Ortenzio just pleaded guilty to tax evasion, according to the Manhattan District Attorney.

From a press release that just went out:

Mr. Morgenthau said that ORTENZIO’s crimes occurred while he was the County Chairman of the New York County Republican Committee. From 1999 to 2003, ORTENZIO had served as the Chairman of the Hudson River Park Trust, a public benefit corporation created to develop and maintain the Hudson River Park, which stretches for about five miles along the Manhattan shoreline from Battery Place to 59th Street.
Specifically, ORTENZIO was mandated by his position as the Chairman of the County Republican Committee to file an Annual Statement of Financial Disclosure with the New York State Ethics Commission. In September of 2004, he was paid $100,000 by Fisher Brothers Management Co., located at 299 Park Avenue, New York, New York, for certain consulting services. On June 13, 2005, ORTENZIO filed his calendar year 2004 Disclosure form, but intentionally omitted his payment from Fisher Brothers Management in an effort to prevent disclosing that he received the money.
Additionally, in June of 2004, ORTENZIO was retained to arbitrate a business dispute involving two companies that provide helicopter flight services in Manhattan, Air Pegasus of New York, Inc. and Sightseeing Tours of America, Inc. Both companies are located on land belonging to the Hudson River Park Trust. ORTENZIO was paid approximately $80,000 in 2005 for his arbitration services. Subsequently, ORTENZIO filed false and fraudulent 2005 personal New York state tax returns by intentionally failing to disclose the income received from his mediation services.
Mr. Morgenthau said that the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea commenced in November of 2005. Since then, the investigation has resulted in several convictions. On May 2, 2007, Dennis Pappas, former Vice-President of Cipriani USA, pleaded guilty to Attempted Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree for defrauding insurance companies out of more than $1,000,000. Pappas was sentenced on July 2, 2007 to 1 ½ to 4 ½ years in state prison and the payment of $1,017,000 in restitution.
On July 31, 2007, Arrigo Cipriani, the patriarch of the Cipriani family business, Giuseppe Cipriani, the President and CEO of Cipriani USA, Inc., and three Cipriani corporations pleaded guilty to tax evasion. They were sentenced on October 10, 2007 to repayment of $10 million in back taxes. An independent monitor was also installed to ensure accurate tax treatment of all of the family’s businesses.
ORTENZIO, who owns several meat processing companies, was a significant distributor of meat and other food products to Cipriani restaurants.
Mr. Morgenthau thanked the New York City Department of Finance and its Commissioner Martha E. Stark, as well as its Assistant Commissioner for Tax Enforcement Carlton Butler; the Director of Tax Enforcement, Maureen Kokeas; Manager, Criminal Audit Tax Enforcement Division Robert Stahl; and Special Tax Auditor Franklin Hayes. The District Attorney also thanked the Acting New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and its Commissioner, Barbara Billett; Deputy Commissioner for Tax Enforcement William Comiskey, and Peter Farrell, Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Tax Enforcement.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Seidel, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Rackets Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Brian J. Fields are in charge of the prosecution. Financial Consultant John Tampa also assisted in the case, as did Senior Investigators James Mauritzen, Julian Yannotti and Supervising Investigator Stephen McCallion of the Investigation Bureau, which is headed by Chief Investigator Joseph Pennisi and Deputy Chief Terry Mulderrig.