By ISABEL VINCENT
September 5, 2008
Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel admitted that he earned more than $75,000 of undeclared income from a Dominican Republic villa, after The Post exposed his wrongdoing in an exclusive report Sunday.
Rangel has owned the villa at the Punta Cana Yacht Club for 20 years, yet only sporadically declared income to Congress, and never reported it on his federal or state tax returns, his lawyer said.
A Post investigation into Punta Cana found that the sun-drenched beach front "casita" 412 was regularly rented out for up to $1,100 a day, yet Rangel had said he received no income in 2006, 2007 and other years. In other years, he had declared rental income of up to $15,000. He now admits that over 20 years he made at least $75,000 in rental income that he didn't report.
The chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee at first denied that he earned any money to a Post reporter, then said the whole thing was "a private matter." But now Rangel's lawyer says disclosure forms will be refiled for a number of years. Filing a false disclosure form can result in civil penalties and a possible five-year prison sentence.
His three-bedroom, three-bath villa, which can accommodate three couples, is rented for between $500 in the low season to $1,100 a night in the busiest tourist season and is one of the resort's most popular, managers and staff say.
"You are requesting the best casita on the beach," a reservations manager told a Post reporter posing as a customer.
"We are always booked solid on that one between December 15 and April 15. It is always the first one to go," he said.
The 78-year-old Rangel's stone-covered cottage - which boasts flat-screen TVs and a panoramic ocean view - was open to hotel guests in the past two years, General Manager Carolina Jones told The Post.
"It's part of the hotel operation. It's available to customers at all times," Jones said of No. 412. Typically, the owners of the casitas earn 80 percent of any rental income, staff said.
In June 2001, Rangel sent a letter to the ethics committee saying his properties, including his home in the Dominican Republic, are "jointly owned by my wife and me." The letter added that "there was no income derived from these assets" in 2000.