Mrs Helmsley, Leona Helmsley, Helmsley Hotels discussed on MSNBC Rachel Maddow (audio)
The rachel maddow show. We did nine eastern on. Msnbc leona helmsley. remember her. She went to prison. She was a multi-billionaire actual multi-billionaire for real she was president of helmsley hotels which was a high end luxury group of two or three dozen hotels including the park lane in new york city and the helmsley palace. She herself appeared in ads for some of her hotels bragging about how rich she was. And how exacting she was and how she needed absolutely the best service and the all the most luxurious stuff and so she insisted on it at all of her hotels. And that's why you should come stay at hotels sort of familiar. Stick at this point. I know but it worked for for helmsley hotels in the nineteen eighty s until it didn't turns out despite being a billionaire despite not only the image of immense wealth but the actuality of it leona helmsley and her husband had engaged in a number of chiseling tax cheats including having a whole bunch of renovations. Done at a helmsley vacation. Home in greenwich connecticut. Leona helmsley's private home renovations on that home including like putting in a dancefloor and stuff but she builds the renovations to the hotel company. She had the helmsley hotel company. Paid to do those renovations on her private home that had for her the double benefit of her not having to pay for those renovations herself and also her hotel company got to deduct the payments as a business expense. Even though they weren't it was just stuff. She wanted personally yes. She went to prison the trial where she got convicted Probably made her even more famous than her. hotels had. this is headline july twelfth. Nineteen eighty nine in the new york. Times made testifies helmsley denied paying taxes. Quote leona helmsley. Once told a housekeeper at her connecticut home that only the little people pay taxes. The housekeeper testified yesterday at mrs helmsley's tax fraud and extortion trial. The witness elizabeth bomb said the conversation took place at the helmsley's home in greenwich four to six weeks after she was hired in september. Nineteen eighty-three miss baum said that she and mrs helmsley. We're in a back hall of the eleven million dollar home. I said you must pay a lot. Of taxes is bomb testified. She said we don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes. Ms baum testified that staff salaries were paid by helmsley businesses and that her paycheck was issued by the harley hotel. Chain which is based in cleveland miss baum also said she ordered groceries and household supplies for the greenwich house from the park lane hotel in new york city. The items were delivered in a hotel van. She said assistant. Us attorney kathy. Cyborg ask ms bomb. If she ever purchased food locally in greenwich. She said she did so only a few times. She testified quote. I bought something for the house that we ate. She testified that when she asked mrs helmsley to reimburse her for the cost of that food mrs helmsley said to her quote. You bought it you pay for it real peach right leona. Only the little people pay taxes. Helmsley went to prison for that scheme and more. That's that's game in which she used her business as a tool for chiseling petty tax fraud. Which is both a crazy thing for a super-rich person to bother with right and it turns out. It's exactly the kind of crime that super rich people think they can get away with and that they can get caught for particularly if they are brazen about it. I mean leona homes. It was having her business pay or provide for her personal living expenses including the salaries for her made and other servants at her private vacation home in the renovations there even the food there should the business pay for all of it instead of her pain for it that meant nothing comes out of her pocket and the business gets to deduct all of that for tax purposes. She was convicted on thirty. three counts. people sort of famously shouted at her and taunted her on on the courthouse steps up to her conviction. She went to prison in nineteen ninety two when she got out of prison. She had a community service hours to perform. She apparently tried to get her employees to perform the community service for her. The court found out about it and so then she got more hours. The on a helmsley died in two thousand seven. Nearly every headline on every obituary called the ex-convict the queen of mean when she died using business to pay for your personal stuff as a way to avoid taxes. That's a tried and true way to go to prison and being famous doesn't necessarily help you. Avoid that being infamous or being famous you remember on seinfeld. There was a character called the soup. Nazi he we ever rule in this. Show don't talk about nazis unless you're talking about actual nazis except in the case of the soup nazi. That was his character on the show. He had all these really specific rules. For how exactly you were supposed to order soup at his restaurant and if you didn't follow the rules he screamed at you. No soup for you. The soup nazi on seinfeld was based on a real guy. A storefront soup place on west fifty fifth street in manhattan. Run by a guy who really would scream at you if you didn't order fast enough or if you didn't stand in exactly the right place the cfo for the soup nazi's soup company. Went to prison turns out for years. If god forbid you worked at the soup nazi place you would get paid through. All sorts of little chiseling off the books schemes designed to avoid taxes. And so the dude went to prison running your business in such a way that your business provides personal stuff to executives of the company and then writes it off like those are business. Expenses compensating the employees at your business in ways that are designed to hide that compensation from tax authorities. These are tried and true path's to prison even if you're not like a tax accountant even somebody who studies these things even if you're not a lawyer if you're somebody who just watch is seinfeld or read a single tabloid newspaper in the eighties even for comically high profile people. This is a tried and true way to end up in the crowbar hotel. Which is why presumably most people who try to commit those crimes no that they ought to be subtle about it. Mostly not all though and what new york prosecutors spelled out in court today was a variety of this kind of alleged crime that.