Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This Business Stuff

Marie Baran is one of the remaining defendants in a Long Island Railroad pension fraud scheme (some of the other defendants having taken plea agreements).  Her testimony at her trial was reported in today's Newsday.  Marie had been the District Office manager for the Railroad Retirement Board, and, almost immediately upon her retirement from that Federal agency, set up shop in the free office space provided in the LIRR workers' union headquarters as a consultant to advise LIRR employees how to put in the papers to get their disability pensions and retire early.  Her own husband is an ex-LIRR worker on disability.  She charged the LIRR workers she advised $1,200 each as a consulting fee.

Marie admitted to amending her income tax return to reflect more than $50,000 additional income after she received a visit from the FBI.  She claimed that she insisted on cash payments because she didn't want to have to worry about bounced checks, and that hiding income was the furthest thing from her mind. 

She further claimed that the $50,000 + underreported from her initial return was an honest mistake.  " 'I wasn't very good at this business stuff,' she testified. 'I didn't keep records the first year. When I did my taxes, I just winged it.'"

I wasn't there; I only know what I read in Newsday.  The judge and jury are best postured to evaluate the testimony of the witnesses, and I do not now purport to second-guess them.  Nevertheless, I shall exercise my First Amendment rights and proffer my personal opinion:

Marie, if you held the union members in such high regard as you claimed (hey, they did, after all, give you some rent-free office digs), why couldn't you trust them to write good checks to you?  And Marie, you were not a GS-5 automaton, you were the freakin' District Office Manager of the RRB's Long Island Office!  This "business stuff" couldn't have been all that strange to you!  In fact, you couldn't have lasted more than a few weeks as District Office Manager if you were totally clueless about "this business stuff!"

I'm sure that the GS-3s, GS-4s and GS-5's I had occasion to supervise during my Federal employment years (who, notwithstanding their low scope of authority, job functions and salaries, were certainly not automatons) would not have missed the $50K+ discrepancy you claimed was an innocent error.  They understood "this business stuff!"

Marie, I think that you now stand a good chance of getting some rent-free housing from the Federal government!  In a Big House!

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