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The office of Governor David Paterson organized an in-person briefing and conference call this afternoon for reporters to discuss the sticky tax situation of Charles J. O’Byrne, secretary of state to the governor. Also on hand was a legal team retained by O’Byrne.
According to attorneys Henry Berger and Richard Kestenbaum, speaking from the Midtown office of Poppe & Bhouraskar, LLP, O’Byrne suffered from a depression that specifically impacted his ability to file taxes for the years 2001-05. “There is a non-filer syndrome that exists, it was written about a lot,” said Kestenbaum.
Asked how O’Byrne could excel in his other duties yet still be unable to complete the simple task of filing, Kestenbaum said, “These are very high-functioning people who otherwise can complete all the other tasks in their life, but there is something they can’t do.”
In response to further questioning about the status of O’Byrne’s depression, Berger said that, based on what O’Byrne has shared, they know that he sought and received treatment, including therapy and medication, on three different occasions. The most recent bout occurred in late December 2006, and continued for “a couple weeks” into his tenure in then-Lieutenant Governor Paterson’s office. He incurred no significant loss of work time, is not currently on medication, and has not experienced an instance since then.
“Other than the fact that it interfered with the filing of his tax return,” said Berger, “we’re not going to go into any further instances. It did not interfere with his work. It did affect his personal life.”
Berger and Kestenbaum said that O’Byrne filed his return for the tax year 2001 on June 20, 2006, and his 2002-05 returns on December 28, 2006. All taxes, penalties and interest have been paid, they said.
“He is now fully compliant with all his tax responsibilities for all years,” said Kestenbaum.