Assemblywoman Pamela Harris’ past money issues returned to haunt her this week, as tabloid newspapers scrutinized old mortgage debt and back taxes her lawyer claims she is working to repay.
Harris and her husband Leon filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy at the end of 2013 and are in the process of paying back more than $30,000 in tax debt and another $27,000 in delinquent mortgage payments, according to court documents — which were first reported on by the New York Daily News.
Court paperwork shows there are at least 15 creditors owed money by Harris and her husband.
Among the couple’s creditors, according to the paperwork, is the Internal Revenue Service, which is owed $23,192. The state is also owed $10,952 for delinquent personal income taxes from 2008 and 2009, according to an agency spokesman.
The couple also owes $619,843, including nearly $27,000 in delinquent payments as of May 4 to their mortgage company, which has raised the specter of foreclosure of their Neptune Avenue home in recent legal papers.
Harris’ lawyer Stephen Kass did not explain the debt but told the Daily News that his client is working on paying it back.
“From my experience, all sorts of people have issues at one point or another,” Kass told the outlet. “Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy. It depends on what’s going on with your life; if you have a momentary setback. As long as you take the steps to do the right thing, that’s all I care about.”
In order to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy — which is used to stop a foreclosure, to prevent the accrual of interest while paying back taxes, or to rectify missed mortgage payments — a debtor must have a 3- to 5- year repayment plan that is approved by a judge, notes the news outlet.
According to the Daily News, a trustee overseeing the Harris’ case filed paperwork tried to end the bankruptcy agreement because Harris failed to submit a a copy their 2015 tax returns by deadline.
Harris’ lawyer told the outlet the documents have since been provided and he expects the issue to be resolved.
The assemblywoman — who won the seat in a special election last year — faced scrutiny last month over her allegedly “too cozy” relationship with the non-profit she founded in 2003 Coney Island Generation Gap (CIGG), which provides resources and training to disadvantaged youths.
Though she admitted that CIGG operated out of her Coney Island home, Harris has pushed back at accusations that she was the recipient of $26,000 CIGG spent on “occupancy, rent, utilities and maintenance.” That money was used to rent a room on a neighbor’s property for a video production studio and to pay for one-time events at other locations in Coney Island, she told our sister site Sheepshead Bites.
“I wish I didn’t have to tell a group of teenagers to go when there is no place to go,” Harris said in a press conference last month.
In her 2015 financial disclosure forms, Harris disclosed that she received between $5,000 to $20,000 in rent-related income from tenant last year, though the identity of the tenants was not revealed.
Harris is being challenged for the 46th Assembly seat by Bay Ridge activist and former Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny chief of staff Kate Cucco. Cucco is running on a slate that includes Chris McCreight and Brigitte Purvis, who are challenging Harris’ allies Dilia Schack and Councilman Mark Treyger, who are running for District Leader positions. A primary election will be held on September 13.