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WESTLAKE GETS THREE MONTHS

Red Bank resident Jack Westlake, former president of the Monmouth County Board of Taxation, was sentenced to three months in federal prison and seven months home confinement Thursday for tax evasion.

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Westlake, 76, of Ambassador Drive in the Elk Ridge condo complex off Spring Street, had been prosecuted for his role in a corruption scheme that also involved former state Senate President John A. Lynch Jr. Westlake admitted failing to pay federal income tax on $350,000.

The plea was unrelated to Westlake’s role as a gubernatorial appointee to the six-member county tax board, which oversees local tax rates and rules on appeals of property tax cases.

From today’s report on the sentencing in the Asbury Park Press:

Westlake expressed contrition in his brief prepared statement.

“Words cannot express how much I regret having committed this offense,” he read, in a strong, steady voice. “This is the first time in the 76 years of my life that I have been in a courtroom.”

Westlake asked forgiveness from his wife, Marietta, and daughter, Lynn — both of whom were seated behind him — and said that he is “committed” to paying the rest of his back taxes.

“I ask the court to blend mercy with justice in my case,” he said.

From a report in today’s Star-Ledger:

Westlake’s lawyer, John C. Whipple, yesterday argued strongly for house arrest based on his client’s age and poor health, but [U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler in Newark] was adamant that some prison time was required.

“I’m going to tell you, and everyone like you, that at least in this court if you engage in tax evasion in a careful and calculated manner, there will be a jail sentence,” the judge said. “You can’t get a do- over. It doesn’t work that way.”

Whipple said Westlake already has paid $49,000 of the more than $75,000 he owes in back taxes for failing to report the $350,000 on his 1999 tax return. Westlake also ex pects a $65,000 penalty and will pay that, too, his lawyer said.

“All he is waiting for is for someone to tell him the amount of the check to be written to make things right with the U.S. Treasury,” Whipple said.

He added that Westlake has beaten colon cancer but suffers from heart disease and chronic kid ney failure. To control his medical problems, Westlake takes nine medications a day, the lawyer said.

A home confinement sentence would keep Westlake near his doctors and paying his own medical bills, Whipple argued. Westlake said he was ashamed to be in court, acknowledged his crime had cost him respect in the community and asked Chesler to blend mercy with justice.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Chiesa said Westlake’s failure to report the money was not an inno cent omission or the result of confusion but something he directed his accountant to do. A prison term would send the message to other public officials that there are serious consequences for wrongdoing, he added.

Authorities said Westlake and Lynch shared $500,000 that was for warded to one of their consulting businesses, Alma Limited Inc., by an unnamed developer who had received that amount for selling property along the Raritan River in July 1999.

Chesler said he would recommend that Westlake be assigned to a federal hospital prison because of his many health problems. Westlake was ordered to surrender to federal prison authorities on Feb 20. Lynch, 68, began serving a 39-month prison term on a federal corruption conviction this month.

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