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Jewish World Review June 13, 2002 / 3 Tamuz, 5762

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

The Accused | Nobody likes to see another person cheat on his taxes. At the same time, nobody likes to see anyone accused of being guilty of cheating until he has his day in court.

An interesting case came up recently. L. Dennis Kozlowski was criminally indicted by a grand jury in New York for evading millions of dollars in state taxes.

Mr. K was the CEO and chairman of Tyco, one of the largest companies in the world.

I discussed his troubles with a lawyer friend who said if I was going to write about this I would have to say he ALLEGEDLY committed the crime.

So be it. Mr. K, the grand jury said, bought paintings in New York, shipped them to his office in New Hampshire, then shipped them back so he would not have to pay the New York state tax on them.

Stephen Kaufman, Mr. K's lawyer, said, "When all the facts are fully presented, a jury or court will find the charges lacking in substance."

I showed the quote to my lawyer friend, who said, "That's what you have to say when you are defending a client."

The reason I got interested in the case is that I'm a greed-watcher, and this brings it to a new high. I say this because Mr. K moved his company from New Hampshire to Bermuda to avoid paying American taxes. He was so pleased with his offshore headquarters that he ALLEGEDLY got the tax avoidance bug for himself.

Where greed raised its ugly head is that Mr. K, one of the highest paid executives in America, earned $3 million in three years.

His defenders, not too many right now, say he loved art so much that he ALLEGEDLY felt he would be dishonoring his Renoir and Monet if he paid a sales tax on them.

Why greed is so hard to spot is that the people who engage in it give to charities and balls, and they lavish gifts on museums and symphonies. They are targets of every chairlady holding a dinner for a worthy cause.

It is only when a snooping tax collector starts looking at Mr. K's books that the chairladies get worried that their fat cat won't buy a table.

It is not for me to say if Mr. K did what the district attorney says he did. The big question is why he ALLEGEDLY tried to cheat on his taxes when he was a multimillionaire and had worked out a pension package that would provide millions for the rest of his life.

Nobody knows what will happen at the trial. If Mr. K is found guilty of all the charges, he will get four years in a state prison and he will then find out what New York State taxes are for.

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06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

© 2002, TMS