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Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: Westlake to quit after guilty plea, Facing prison sentence for tax evasion,
DEVELOPER: Facing prison sentence for tax evasion, he's giving up tax board post, paying to retain health insurance
Westlake to quit after guilty plea
Asbury Park Press 09/20/06
John E. "Jack" Westlake, who pleaded guilty to a federal tax evasion charge last week, will resign as president of the Monmouth County Board of Taxation by Friday, his attorney said.
The delay is due to paperwork that would allow Westlake to continue his state government health insurance plan, said lawyer John C. Whipple of Morristown.
He will apply under COBRA, a federal law that allows people who leave their employment to buy insurance from their former employer for up to 18 months, Whipple said.
Westlake, 76, of Red Bank, who pleaded guilty alongside his business partner, former state Senate President John A. Lynch Jr., suffers from heart and kidney disease and will need the health benefits after he resigns, Whipple said.
"His (Westlake's) resignation will be in the hands of the governor at the close of business on Friday, if not sooner," Whipple said.
Westlake, who is paid $22,125 a year in the part-time tax job, has just under 15 years of credit in the state pension system. He will not be eligible for the state's low-cost, lifetime health benefits, state Treasury spokesman Mark Perkiss said. Most public employees need 25 years of service to qualify for the lifetime plan. Westlake would still be eligible for a state pension, which could come to about $5,600 a year.
The six-member Board of Taxation Westlake heads rules on appeals of property tax assessments and oversees the setting of local property tax rates.
On Friday, Westlake admitted that in 2000 he took $350,000 in payments from his company, Alma Ltd. in Tinton Falls, but did not declare the money on his federal taxes. He is expected to be sentenced Dec. 19 to 10 to 16 months in prison as part of a plea agreement.
Westlake still owes the federal government $75,000, plus interest and penalties. Whipple said Westlake is working with the Internal Revenue Service to refile his 2000 tax return.
The $350,000 was a fee paid to Westlake's company by an unnamed developer whose land had been purchased by Middlesex County.
Lynch, once considered the state's most powerful Democratic Party boss, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and corruption charges. He is commonly credited with bringing former Democratic Gov. James E. McGreevey to office in 2001.
Lynch and Westlake were partners in a firm called Executive Continental, also based in Tinton Falls. Alma and Executive Continental provided consulting services to developers and businesses in order to help them gain government approvals.
Gov. Corzine, State Sen. Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth, and Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin, R-Monmouth, all called on Westlake to resign from his state-appointed post immediately after his plea.
David Wald, a spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office, said the state is prepared to go to Superior Court to force Westlake's removal from office if he does not resign by the end of the week.
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