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National Briefing / NEW YORK

Governor backs aide in tax flap

October 19, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Gov. David Paterson's chief of staff, who blamed clinical depression for the more than $200,000 he had to repay in five years of back taxes, has the full confidence of his boss, the governor's spokeswoman said Saturday.

Chief of Staff Charles J. O'Byrne, a former Jesuit priest who officiated at the wedding and funeral of John F. Kennedy Jr., didn't pay state and federal taxes from 2001 to 2005. He was on the state payroll for part of that time. He now is paid $178,500 as the Democratic governor's powerful top aide.

O'Byrne used personal lines of credit, liquidated some assets and received help from friends and relatives to pay off the debt, Paterson spokeswoman Risa Heller said Saturday.

The details about O'Byrne's tax debt -- first reported by the New York Post and Albany Times Union -- emerged as Paterson is calling for state spending cuts because of billions of dollars in deficits and cracking down on people and businesses owing back taxes.

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