By Albert Samaha
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McGillion acknowledged that she had no other evidence besides the records of payment to lead her to believe that Giuliani received the rings years after the championships were won. She declined to respond to two sets of e-mailed questions about whether it was the team's contention that rings weren't made for Giuliani until 2003 and 2004, or if they were maintaining that his rings had actually been manufactured during his mayoralty and held by the Yankees, with his assent, until after he left office.
Although the Yankees replaced Joe DiMaggios lost rings in 1999, making new ones years later is almost never done and would have been an exceptional favor. Asked if the Yankees would make a ring several years after a World Series win for a new recipient, David Fiore, the ex-CEO of American Achievement, the Texas-based manufacturer of the teams rings, said: "Not after the fact; they're all awarded at the same time. If you lose it a couple of years later, we will replace it."
Giuliani's protracted delaypaying for a 1996 ring eight years latermight well be seen by the IRS, COIB, or other investigators as an indication that he recognized the impropriety of receiving them while mayor, or, as Giuliani used to describe it in his prosecutorial days, an "inference of guilt." If the rings were promised and made for him while he was in office, though not actually delivered until after his term ended, that could still involve violations of the gift or gratuity statutes, according to investigators.
Four sources, two from the manufacturer and two from City Hall, have told the Voice that a ring was made with Giuliani's name on it in 1996 or early 1997. The City Hall sources also recall him receiving the ring at that time. In addition, one of these sources, joined by two other exGiuliani staffers, says the mayor did not take possession of the three additional rings until much later. The best recollection of these aides is that he got these rings as a package near the end of his term in 2001, just as his administration closed a number of critical deals with the Yankees. While the Yankees could offer no explanation for why he paid for three rings in one year and the 1996 ring a year later, the chronology cited by the sources suggests one. He paid for the three he received together, and then later remembered to pay for the one he'd gotten long before. He paid $2,000 less for the 1996 ring than he did for the othersanother indication of how disconnected from market factors this reputed sale was, since many ring experts believe the 1996 ring, which ended a nearly two-decade Yankee drought, is the most valuable of the four.
McGillion also declined to answer questions about the tax implications of Giuliani's rings, which may explain the late payments. Bill DeWitt III, one of the owners of the St. Louis Cardinals, says the team, which won the championship last year, issued 1099-MISC "miscellaneous income" forms to employees and non-employees who received rings, but the Yankees have never done that. At the time of the Yankee wins, IRS rules required the reporting of gifts of more than $10,000 by either the donor or the recipient (the threshold was recently raised to $12,000). DeWitt says that estimating a ring's value for tax purposes gets "a little gray and murky," and a Cardinal spokesman says that the club actually boosted employee salaries to cover taxes they might have to pay on the rings.
Three tax attorneys tell the Voice that Giuliani's payments may have been intended to lower the value of the gifts below the IRS thresholds. That would mean that neither the Yankees nor Giuliani would have to report the transaction. The belated payments then may have been a post-divorce or pre-presidential-campaign attempt, on the advice of tax counsel, to avoid dealing with the actual timing and true value of the rings.
Frequently ensconced in George Steinbrenner's eight-seat 31A box and four Legends 31AA seats next to the Yankee dugout while he was mayor, Giuliani and his many guests were also repeatedly given Yankee jackets, caps, autographed balls, and other gifts. "He would require gifts at every game," says a former close Giuliani aide, whose account is supported by both a Yankee source and an ex-cop assigned to the mayor. He even wanted a fitted cap with the World Series logo and other special caps, and the equipment management had to reach into the players' uniform case to find one for Giuliani's large head. The Giuliani group also raided the closet in Steinbrenner's office, even taking DiMaggio jackets with red piping for the mayor and guests. "They finally turned the spigot off in 2000 and said we just can't do it anymore," the aide recalls. The cop remembers jackets and ballssome signed by all the Yankeesstuffed in the back of the city cars they used to drive back from the stadium.
The Yankees say Giuliani paid for at least some of his tickets, though he did not pay when "he attended in his official capacity." They declined to specify which games were official, or to answer detailed questions about the other largesse. Several friends who sat with Giuliani at games, like Emergency Management Director Jerry Hauer, say they were never asked to pay. "I don't believe he paid for our seats," says Hauer. "I don't think anybody paid for them. It would have cost him a fortune." Russell Harding, one of three members of his family who went to Yankee games with Giuliani and the head of the Housing Development Corporation, wrote in an e-mail disclosed after his arrest on charges of bilking the city for hundreds of thousands of dollars: "I never have to pay for things like that . . . especially Yankee tickets . . . just one of the perks I get with my job . . . And knowing the mayor doesn't hurt either." Russell's brother Robert (both are sons of Liberal Party boss Ray Harding) was actually in charge of the Yankee Stadium negotiations for Giuliani.