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State Briefs: 4/3/03

Thursday, April 03, 2003

HARRISBURG: Secretary of state named

Gov. Ed Rendell will nominate a Harrisburg man as Pennsylvania's next secretary of state, after Rendell's first choice withdrew amid reports that he failed to file campaign finance reports on time, an administration spokeswoman said.

Rendell will tap Pedro Cortes, executive director of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, spokeswoman Kate Philips said.

Cortes, a native of Puerto Rico, would be the first Latino to serve in the governor's Cabinet if he is confirmed by the Senate.

As secretary of state, he would oversee elections, professional licensing, corporate registrations and charitable organizations.

He replaces Benjamin Ramos, a former state representative from Philadelphia who was Rendell's original nominee. Ramos withdrew in late February amid legislative criticism over news reports that he repeatedly was late in filing campaign-finance reports as well as the resulting fines.

Cortes has worked for the state for 10 years and previously worked for the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Welfare. If confirmed, he would receive an annual salary of $103,980.

FEDERAL COURT: Tax evasion indictments

Just in time for tax season, a federal grand jury has indicted two local men in unrelated income tax evasion cases.

John A. Havey, 57, of Beaver County, and Lorenzo M. King, 53, of Allegheny County, were named in separate indictments handed up Monday following investigations by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Havey is charged with evading income taxes by filing false tax returns for 1993, 1994 and 1995 that under-reported his true income.

King is charged with evading taxes for 1997 and 1998 by using multiple corporate names to conduct a computer consulting business and failing to incorporate those businesses and file tax returns for them.

The U.S. attorney's office would not provide addresses or even hometowns for the defendants.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Brysh said prosecutors no longer release addresses in tax evasion indictments because of a 15-year-old civil suit against the IRS in Texas.

In that case, Elvis E. Johnson sued the IRS in the late 1980s for breaking an agreement not to publicize the fact that he pleaded guilty in 1981 to tax evasion.

But five days after the plea, the IRS issued a news release identifying him along with personal information.

In 1998, the IRS paid him a record $3.5 million settlement.

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