I-Team: NY's Worst Tax Scofflaws Owe State Half a Billion Dollars

New York’s worst tax delinquents owe more than half a billion dollars to the government, according to the state’s Department of Tax and Finance, which periodically puts out a list based on residents who have accrued the most debt and had a tax warrant filed against them in the last year.

Investigators say one of the worst offenders is Vincent "Vinny" Vertuccio, who, according to prosecutors, has been involved with the Bannano crime family. Officials say Vertuccio, who was recently indicted on separate fraud charges, runs Crimson Construction. Since 2010, prosecutors allege Vertuccio and Crimson have failed to pay more than $9 million in state taxes.

Investigators said that Vertuccio’s firm was awarded an $11 million contract at One World Trade Center but has not paid state or employee taxes. Prosecutors said that Crimson was awarded the contract by hiding Vertuccio’s leadership role in the company and that his alleged mob ties would have prevented Crimson from getting the deal.

Vertuccio is also accused of stealing more than $1 million in funds meant to rebuild the site of the 9/11 attacks. Crimson Construction is accused of leaving the job unfinished and workers unpaid.

Vertuccio’s lawyer, Melvyn Roth, denies all the allegations.

"As far as I know, Mr. Vertuccio has paid all taxes, federal and state,” Roth said, “He had nothing to do with Crimson Construction. He wasn’t an officer, he wasn’t a director, he wasn’t an employee.”

Roth also denied his client has any connection to organized crime.

Conklin Services and Construction in Orange County, another construction firm, is also among the worst tax scofflaws, according to the list released by the state. According to the state, the environmental control company refuses to pay more than $2 million it owes in state taxes.

Conklin has still been able to secure taxpayer-funded contracts over its taxpaying competitors. In Harrison, New York, Conklin was hired to clean up a small fuel spill last spring despite being listed as a tax delinquent.

Frank Allegretti, attorney for the town of Harrison, said that after the town learned of Conklin’s tax issues, the money for the contract was paid directly to the state, not to the construction company.

“That money went directly to the tax authorities and not to Conklin,” Allegretti said, adding that his office is now investigating.

Calls to Conklin Services and Construction were not returned.

A Queens-based nonprofit, Steinway Child and Family Services, also made the list of tax delinquents.

The mental health services organization admits that it has not paid $1.4 million in payroll taxes on its workers, but blames city and state budget cuts for its inability to do so.

“Steinway was put in an extremely difficult position of keeping jobs and programs, and continuing to serve the underserved, or not remitting some of its taxes,” John Sullivan, the nonprofit’s legal representation, said.

The New York Department of Tax and Finance updates its worst tax offender list several times a year. Officials say those on the list deserve to be shamed.

“It certainly upsets me and I would hope it upsets the taxpayers,” Argi O’Leary, deputy commissioner of the New York Department of Tax Finance, said. “If everyone is not paying their fair share it makes that much harder on those honest citizens who do.”

Business owner George Frantzesko says he struggles to grow his Chelsea business but always pays his taxes. He said that the nearby businesses on the state's delinquent list put his business at a disadvantage.

“It’s crazy how people get away with not paying so much money,” Frantzesko said, “It’s really crazy.”  

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