Deceit. Bungling. Lather, rinse, repeat. An update on this story. “Ground Zero mosque honcho provides shady proof of property tax pay with doctored statements,” by Erin Einhorn for the New York Daily News, October 19 (thanks to Twostellas):
The real estate developer who wants to put a mosque near Ground Zero tried to pull a fast one Tuesday about his property tax woes.
When the Daily News contacted developer Sharif el-Gamal about the $30,000 he owed the city in back property taxes for the future Islamic center in lower Manhattan, he insisted he had already taken care of it.
“The check was sent in,” Gamal insisted to The News during an interview about 3:30 p.m. “The taxes have been paid.”
Gamal was supposed to be making quarterly payments for a $224,000 tax bill his company had run up last year on the Park Place building.
But he missed a scheduled $30,000 payment that was due on Oct. 3.
When the Daily News asked for proof of payment, Gamal forwarded an email receipt from the city Finance Department’s online payment system showing a $30,435.11 payment made on Oct. 5 at 1:54 p.m.
The email receipt Gamal forwarded had a receipt number of WWW23334165.
There was a problem, however.
The Finance Department says that payment was actually made yesterday at 3:55 p.m. – roughly half an hour after Gamal claimed he’d already paid.
The Finance Department sent over what they say is the real receipt, which had the same code number of WWW23334165.
It was dated Tuesday.
City officials say receipt numbers are sequential and that the one in question was issued Tuesday – not two weeks ago as Gamal claimed in his apparently doctored proof of payment.
Gamal apparently also sent reporters from different news organizations receipts with different time stamps.
When asked about the discrepancy, Gamal responded by email that the receipt was “forwarded to me from one of my staff members.”
He did not respond to requests for further explanation.
The mosque project has apparently encountered money troubles as fund-raising has stalled.
Gamal is also in a financial dispute with Con Ed over lease payments the utility says he owes for a portion of the Park Place building owned by Con Ed.