Friday's Headlines & Surprises: All Big Money Issue!
- Yet Another USC Criminal: Laguna Beach billionaire Igor Olenicoff has pleaded guilty in a massive tax fraud scheme involving $346 million and Bahama bank accounts. A product of USC after fleeing the Soviet Union and Iran, Olenicoff lied to the IRS about the existence of the off shore accounts. He’ll have to pay back taxes and penalties of more than $52 million. He also faces up to three years in a federal prison, although I bet it’s a couple of months if at all.
Footnote: Igor and his wife Jeanne, who reside in Laguna’s ritzy Emerald Bay, are hoping Mitt Romney wins the White House. They contributed $4,600 (the primary election max) to Mitt in March.
- If there’s no money in the bank, go shopping: Assembly Democrats insist taxes must be raised and are contemplating ways to do it, according to the LA Times. The problem? Our policians have already spent at least $14 billion (or as much as $16 billion) more than they’ve confiscated. The paper says Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Expensive Excursions) said new tax increases “can generate billions,” especially if he targets internet shopping.
Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Kickbacks) is negotiating “intensely” with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for a new $14 billion government healthcare project. Please note that the project would require that everyone in the state pay premiums to insurance companies. Cha Ching!
- Don't You Wish Your Shower Was Hot Like Me? At the same time that the campus fire alarm system remained broken (for two years), a construction crew worked at night to build an expensive private, campus shower for Erlinda Martinez, president of Santa Ana College. This news comes from Reg reporter Marla Jo Fisher, who says “irate” college trustees—including Phil Yarbrough and John Hanna--stopped the project. $11,000 had already been spent. Because she says she stinks by the end of the work day and likes to attend evening functions, Martinez thought it’d be a good idea to have a convenient cleansing location. She apologized for “clearly” not anticipating “the perception or the community reaction to this.”
- OC Pols lost nearly $14 million last month: Christian Berthelsen of the Times reports that trouble is brewing in Orange County's investment porfolio. A “Nov. 30 warning by Moody's Investors Service that it might downgrade $460 million in securities held by Orange County forced the treasurer's office to write down their value by nearly $13.8 million,” according to Berthelsen. And who is helping lose the public funds? Our good ole pals at Merrill Lynch & Co. who robbed us blind while driving OC into a $1.6 billion bankruptcy in 1994. Our wise leaders are once again paying the company big fees for advice. Berthelsen provided another big surprise: an on-the-mark observation from usually bumbling ex-Supe Jim Silva, who said, “Merrill Lynch has never really been a friend to the county, if you look at their history.”
- Best Headline of the Day: From the Seattle Times: “Suitcase full of cash wasn’t for her, says Argentine president.”
-- R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly