Former Fulton County Economic Development Corp. attorney J. Paul Kolodziej received a two-year suspension for failing to file timely state personal income tax returns, but will be allowed to continue practicing law.
Justices with the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division agreed the Gloversville attorney should be punished for admitting to one count of criminal tax fraud in the fifth degree in November. The justices stressed an attorney’s “duty to comply strictly with statutory mandates, particularly those relating to making income tax returns and payment of taxes due” in handing him a two-year suspension. But they also conditionally stayed the punishment.
“We also measure respondent’s statutorily serious misconduct against his unblemished public disciplinary record, his evident remorse, and his otherwise good personal and professional reputation,” states the decision issued Thursday.
The court required Kolodziej to file timely tax returns and either pay or offer proof of a payment plan for any outstanding tax debts. He has 30 days to provide the Appellate Division’s Committee on Professional Standards with proof he’s resolved any outstanding tax liabilities accrued between 2002 and 2010, according to the decision.
Calls placed to Kolodziej’s office were not returned Thursday afternoon. His lawyer, James C. Hayes III of Amsterdam, has a policy of never publicly commenting on any of his cases, his office said.
The state Department of Taxation and Finance filed six felony charges against Kolodziej in January 2010, alleging he failed to file tax returns between 2002 and 2008. State tax officials listed his taxable income at $1.5 million during this period and said he owed $84,000 to New York.
Kolodziej was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal tax fraud and four counts of failing to file timely returns. He was later served with a $275,000 federal tax lien.
Kolodziej was the staff lawyer of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency and Economic Development Corp. for roughly 25 years. He has been dismissed by both.
Kolodziej was named in a lawsuit filed by the EDC against Jeff Bray, its embattled former executive. The suit contends Bray “unlawfully entered into an agreement with Kolodziej, purportedly on behalf of the [agency], to compensate him for alleged services rendered beyond the scope” of his contract, which was to pay him no more than $18,000 annually.
Instead, an internal audit revealed Kolodziej received $200,000 in bonus payments during his tenure. Most of the bonus money was paid out after the 2007 sale of $31 million in industrial park properties to a Boston real estate management company.
Bray attorney Michael Koenig said his client was able to provide Kolodziej with the hefty bonus and said he acted “with the authority that had been delegated to him over the course of 19 years,” according to court documents.
Categories: Schenectady County