Leona Helmsley Writes $42 Million Check for 1989 Taxes
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ Convicted tax evader Leona Helmsley made out a check for $42,065,000 to the Internal Revenue Service on national television Friday to show she pays her taxes.
Mrs. Helmsley said the sum will pay off the 1989 joint personal income of her and her husband, real estate and hotel magnate Harry Helmsley.
″And we’ve already paid $22 million, which brings it to a gross of about $65 million for this year alone,″ she said.
″We paid our taxes in the past, we paid them now and we’ll pay them in the future,″ she said. ″I want the public to know that we’re good Americans.″
Helmsley, wearing a white blouse, black slacks, black-and-gold sandals and a gold necklace, also noted that she and her husband have given $143 million to charity. In addition, she said, they paid $29.7 million in New York city and state taxes.
Mrs. Helmsley, 69, was convicted last year of federal income tax fraud and sentenced to four years in prison, but is free on bond pending appeal. She still faces state charges that she, her husband and two former employees falsified $3 million worth of business and tax records from 1982 to 1986.
Her attorneys have asked that those charges be dismissed but the judge has not yet ruled. Mrs. Helmsley faces up to four years in state prison if convicted.
Her 80-year-old husband was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in federal court and is seeking the dismissal of state charges on the same grounds.
Mrs. Helmsley said she agreed to be videotaped by the syndicated television program ″A Current Affair″ while vacationing at her Harley Sandcastle hotel on Lido Key to show that she pays taxes like everyone should. The segment aired later Friday.
Mrs. Helmsley has steadfastly maintained she is innocent of tax evasion. She said an appeal will be filed April 25 asking for a new trial.
″We’ve had a very hard time,″ she said. ″It’s been close to five years of them persecuting us. ... It’s constant badgering, constant courtrooms, constant attorneys, constant pressure.″