Sunday, June 20, 2010

Congressman Gregory Meeks Failed to Disclose Hidden Loans; Queens Pol Borrowed More Then $50G by Benjamin Lesser and Greg B. Smith - NY Daily News

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Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks (b.) took loans worth $55,000. A source said the loans were related to construction and renovations on the pol's home. Farriella for News

Congressman Gregory Meeks has received tens of thousands of dollarsdos in personal loans that he didn't report publicly, the Daily News has learned.

Meeks (D-Queens) admitted to The News late Friday that in the past three years, he has obtained two loans totaling $55,000 that he did not reveal on the financial disclosure forms he's required to file with the U.S. House clerk.

He says he obtained one loan with an initial principal of $40,000 in 2007 and says he since has paid it back. Meeks says he got a second personal loan in 2008 with an initial principal of $15,000 that he's still paying back.

The congressman said that on Friday he filed amended financial disclosure statements that reflect the existence of the two loans.

His office, though, failed to respond to repeated requests for copies of the amended reports.

Meeks refused to disclose the purpose of either loan, but a source familiar with the situation said they were related to construction and renovation of his ornate, $830,000 home in Jamaica.

He also refused to explain why he'd suddenly confirmed the existence of the two loans. In previous filings, he'd revealed other minor items that weren't listed on his disclosure forms, records show.

The existence of the loans emerged Friday, shortly after The News questioned him about another loan he, for the first time, had disclosed.

Released Friday, the form stated that sometime last year, Meeks got a "personal loan" of $50,000 to $100,000 from a Queens businessman named Ed Ahmad.

One of Ahmad's businesses sells construction supplies and kitchen and bathroom appliances for homes. Saturday, an employee at Ahmad's real estate office said he was in a meeting and couldn't come to the phone to discuss the loan to Meeks. He did not return subsequent calls.

In 2001, Ahmad testified before a state task force on reapportionment of political districts, identifying himself as president of the New York New Concept Democratic Club. In his testimony, he noted that he had received a citation from Meeks for his charitable work.

Meeks' statement to The News implied he paid interest on at least one of the loans, but he refused to disclose the interest rate, whether the loans required any collateral or their due date.

Under House rules, members of Congress must obtain special permission from the Ethics Commission for personal loans and provide documentation setting forth the terms.

Meeks purchased his massive, 109th Road home from developer Richard Dennis, who built it for him, obtaining mortgages totaling $701,922 for a sale listed at $830,000.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed documents from Meeks and several other Queens politicians, including Meeks' ally, state Senate President Malcolm Smith, in an ongoing corruption probe.

In April, Meeks turned over documents related to his house, as well as records related to his sponsorship of taxpayer dollars for various nonprofit organizations based in Queens.