An attorney for New York Governor David Paterson's chief of staff has attributed his client's neglect in filing tax returns between 2001 and 2005 to "failure-to-file syndrome."
Paterson's top aide, Charles O'Byrne, a former Jesuit priest, recently admitted that he failed to file tax returns for five years, explaining that he suffered from clinical depression. O'Byrne began catching up with his back taxes after he started working for the then-lieutenant governor as a speech writer two years ago.
He recently revealed that he owed about $200,000, although Paterson's attorneys now say the debt was $292,780, according to the New York Post. State tax records show that he made the final payment on his tax debts this week. He reportedly used money borrowed from friends including members of the Kennedy family, according to The New York Times. Back when he was a priest, he presided over the marriage of John F. Kennedy Jr. to Carolyn Bessette.
Attorney Richard Kestenbaum blamed his client's procrastination on the mysterious syndrome. "These are very high-functioning people who otherwise can complete all of the ordinary tasks in their lives," he told the New York Daily News. "But there is something they can't do, and many times that causes them not to be able to file their tax returns."
A spokeswoman for the American Psychiatric Association told the Post that there is no listing for "non-filer syndrome" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Kestenbaum told WebCPA, however, that the syndrome has "been written about since the mid-'90s."
"It's not in the DSM, but that doesn't mean that it's not a syndrome that people have," he said. He added that the syndrome was a manifestation of his client's depression but that O'Byrne has since recovered.
"He seems to have got back into the tax system now," said Kestenbaum. "He's no longer suffering from depression."
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