Gov's aide didn't pay taxes for 5 years

October 18, 2008 3:46:59 PM PDT
Gov. David Paterson's chief of staff, who blamed clinical depression on the more than $200,000 he had to repay in five years of back taxes, has the full confidence of his boss, the governor's spokeswoman said Saturday.Chief of Staff Charles J. O'Byrne, a former Jesuit priest who officiated at the wedding and funeral of John F. Kennedy Jr., didn't pay state and federal taxes from 2001 to 2005. He was on the state payroll for part of that time. He now is paid $178,500 as the Democratic governor's powerful top aide.

O'Byrne used personal lines of credit, liquidated some assets and received help from friends and relatives to pay off the debt, Paterson spokeswoman Risa Heller said Saturday.

The details about O'Byrne's tax debt - first reported by the New York Post and Albany Times Union - emerged as Paterson is calling for state spending cuts because of billions of dollars in deficits and cracking down on people and businesses owing back taxes.

"The governor considers this a part of Charles' past for which he has taken full responsibility and all appropriate steps to remedy the situation," Heller said. Paterson has known about O'Byrne's health history and tax delinquencies since he hired him in 2004, she said.

"The governor considers Charles to be an outstanding public servant and has full confidence in him," Heller said.

O'Byrne said that the problem is in his past.

"During several periods in my life I have suffered from clinical depression," O'Byrne said in a statement Saturday. "As those who suffer from this disease understand, I became neglectful of certain responsibilities in my personal life. Specifically, I failed to file and pay my state and federal taxes from 2001-2005."

The more than $200,000 sum included $151,000 to the IRS and $56,000 in state taxes, including various penalties and interest, according to the Post.

The openly gay Manhattan native left the Jesuits to write "Going My Way," his still-unpublished memoir about sexual confusion and repression in the Roman Catholic Church. He also wrote a 2002 article for Playboy magazine about what he said was pervasive sex and hypocrisy in the church.

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