Thursday, June 21, 2012

Questionable practice

Engel Took Out Co-op Loan with ‘Slumlord’ Donor?

By Michael Horowitz
BRONX, NEW YORK, June 21- When most people need a mortgage, they go to a bank or another financial institution.
But that's not what Rep. Eliot Engel did when he needed a loan for the purchase of the two-bedroom cooperative apartment he maintains at 3725 Henry Hudson Parkway in Riverdale.
The Congressman engaged in a questionable ethical practice, which required the approval of the Ethics Committee, before he could accept a mortgage loan from a long-time campaign contributor and business partner.
Engel, whose district lines were recently redrawn to include Co-op City, engaged in a questionable ethical practice to help pay for the Riverdale apartment.  
The long-time Congressman, who has engaged in other seemingly questionable practices over the years, bought the apartment for $280,000 on Feb. 14 of last year, taking out a cooperative loan of between $100,000 and $250,000 with Harry Bajraktari, his Albanian-American business partner, the Congressman's most recent financial-disclosure statement notes.
A comprehensive disclosure of assets and liabilities, revealing information that members of Congress could hide in the past, was not required until this year.
The existence of the loan from Bajraktari, a prominent leader in the Albanian-American community, was first revealed in Engel's financial-disclosure statement for 2011, which he filed on May 15 of this year.
In 2009, Engel was caught misrepresenting his home at 9925 Conestoga Way in Potomac Village, MD, as his primary home in order to get a homestead-tax deduction.
When he was caught taking the illegal deduction, Engel stopped the practice, but state officials in Maryland did not require him to return the $7,000 in deductions that he had claimed in deductions over the prior decade.
When he first ran for Congress in the 1990s, Engel enlisted the help of Louis Moscatiello, a mobster union leader who was convicted of labor racketeering and subsequently served a jail sentence for his crimes.

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