The tax man says Betty Loren-Maltese owes thousands
BY MARK BROWN firstname.lastname@example.org August 6, 2012 7:52PM
Betty Loren-Maltese | Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 8, 2012 6:19AM
Betty Loren-Maltese may have completed her prison sentence on federal corruption charges more than 2½ years ago, but the tax man decided last week she still hasn’t paid her dues.
U.S. Tax Court Judge Mark Holmes ruled the former Cicero town president owes the Internal Revenue Service $238,399 in taxes and penalties on disputed income from 1994.
In deciding against Loren-Maltese, Holmes even quoted from the Roman orator for whom the Town of Cicero is named: “Cum tacent, clamant.”
I’ll translate later.
Whether the IRS can collect from Loren-Maltese is another matter.
Loren-Maltese, who is renting a two-bedroom apartment in DuPage County and collecting Social Security, told me she doesn’t have that kind of dough after seeing nearly all her possessions sold to pay restitution for her 2002 conviction.
“I think they think I’ve got money [hidden] all over the place,” complained Loren-Maltese, who served 6½ years in prison. “That’s not true.”
Loren-Maltese said she was caught unaware by the ruling, believing the tax matters in dispute had been rendered moot years ago.
Convicted in 2002 of participating in a racketeering conspiracy to allow mob-controlled insurance administrators to loot the town of $12 million, Loren-Maltese was later tried separately on a single tax count.
The tax charge stemmed from Loren-Maltese using more than $350,000 in campaign funds to buy herself a Cadillac convertible and to invest in a mob-connected resort in Wisconsin. But that case ended in a mistrial after a jury was unable to reach a verdict, and federal prosecutors chose not to retry the matter.
That didn’t stop the IRS from continuing to pursue a civil action to collect the taxes, and in 2005, she went to Tax Court to fight the agency’s collection efforts.
A civil trial was held the following year, which required Loren-Maltese to be returned from the California prison where she was being held.
“I came back on ConAir,” recalled Loren-Maltese, who said she hadn’t heard anything since about the case.
For a tax case, that trial was apparently a hoot, gauging by the legal memorandum filed by Judge Holmes, who did not explain why it took him six years to issue a ruling.
Loren-Maltese, whose conviction appeal was still pending at the time of the civil trial, took the Fifth and refused to answer most questions on the advice of her attorney — but made an exception regarding whether her purchase of a $53,000 Cadillac Allante was for herself or her campaign.
“Ms. Loren-Maltese, whose coiffure is legendary in Chicagoland, broke her Fifth Amendment silence on this subject only once — to tell us that though the car was a convertible, she didn’t go “cruising around” town with the top down because she ‘wouldn’t want to mess up [her] hair,’ ” Holmes wrote. “On this narrow issue, we find her entirely credible, but the evidence that her use of the Cadillac was personal rather than political is overwhelming.”
“I never told the guy to title that car in my name,” Loren-Maltese told me.
The judge noted he was allowed by law to draw a “negative inference” from Loren-Maltese refusing to testify, which is where the real Cicero comes in.
“The original Cicero made the point 2,000 years ago in his oration exposing the plot of Lucius Catilina and his friends to plunder their government’s treasury,” Holmes wrote.
“He observed that people have a natural tendency to defend their reputation, and that silence in the face of accusations suggests that there might be some merit to the charges. The Latin is more succinct: Cum tacent, clamant.”
That’s interesting, but what’s Latin for: You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.
“This is really more like piling on,” said Loren-Maltese, who still wants to argue she was innocent of the whole business.
I told her I’m not sympathetic on that front but am rather shocked this tax matter is still kicking around 18 years after the fact.
I couldn’t get a comment from the IRS.
You’ll recall that Loren-Maltese’s Cicero home was auctioned off for $87,000 last year to help satisfy what she owes in restitution. She said the government took the Cadillac long ago. Her house in Las Vegas also was seized, along with two properties in Indiana.
Loren-Maltese, who augments her Social Security by doing “part-time computer work from home,” said the government even sold off her collection of Lladro figurines.
I never thought I’d be taking Loren-Maltese’s side on anything, but if they haven’t got the money out of her by now, I’d say they never will.