AUGUST 15, 2006
Six high-ranking officials at the New Jersey Department of the Treasury have been charged with accepting thousands of dollars worth of lavish gifts from a collection company that cheated the state out of more than $1 million.
The Missouri-based company, OSI Collection Services, was contracted by New Jersey officials to collect unpaid taxes and, instead, padded bills to the state by more than $1 million. The state’s Division of Taxation director and deputy director kept the fraud quiet because the collection company showered them with more than $65,000 in expensive gifts such as fancy dinners, spa treatments, golf outings and other entertainment.
For instance, Division of Taxation director Robert Thomson and his wife, a clerk in the department, took a $2,470 trip to New York that included limousine service, Broadway tickets, meals and drinks at fancy restaurants. Thompson also had a separate, $626 spa outing and an assistant deputy director, David Gavin, who worked on contracts, accepted golf outings worth $2,560.
Additionally, the treasury officials accepted meals at restaurants in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware totaling more than $3,600. Clearly, this leaves the impression that decisions on this particular state contract were undoubtedly subject to influence by the vendor’s generous gifts.
One political news site writes that, while the criminals in New Jersey state offices are robbing taxpayers just as efficiently as thieves who break into homes in the middle of the night, the real crime is that the payroll-heavy state is paying a private firm to collect taxes.
“Collections agencies mostly send letters and make phone calls, which apparently are duties too challenging to state workers with only three workday priorities; break, lunch and 5 p.m.”
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