From riches to rags, it doesn’t look like Betty Loren-Maltese will be relieved of her debt anytime soon.
A judge issued an unexpected ruling last week when he ordered the former Cicero Town president to pay $238,399 in taxes and penalties on under-reported income from a mob-connected luxury golf course in Wisconsin and a 1993 Cadillac convertible.
"I just assumed after years and years that the government, or I should say the IRS lost, because I heard nothing," she said.
Loren-Maltese claims the car was intended for political purposes but that the dealership misunderstood and put the car in her name. She also claims the golf course was made as an investment for her committeeman fund that was intended to receive 8 percent interest, but the money was never received.
"Well, it wasn't income because it was a loan, which any committeeman can use as a loan," she said. "It was supposed to be a loan to them for $300,000 at returned interest of 8 percent interest, and it was secured by the property."
That Loren-Maltese reportedly used her personal money for the car’s insurance plan, gasoline and repairs and falsified campaign finance disclosures led U.S. Tax Court Judge Mark Holmes to believe otherwise.
Loren-Maltese’s political and personal worlds came crashing down in 2002 when she was convicted of swindling Cicero taxpayers out of $12 million in an insurance scheme.
The once-powerful Cicero leader spent seven years in prison only to return to a halfway house in Chicago to finish her probation sentence. She had to fork over her assets after her conviction and is still on the hook to pay back $8 million in restitution to Cicero.
The fines have forced Loren-Maltese to work odd jobs as a restaurant hostess or car saleswoman. She sold her home and even hosted a garage sale.
She believes the timing of the latest ruling is suspect. It comes seven years after it was first heard.
"The powers in Cicero know that I am going to endorse somebody, and it's not going to be the current administration, and I think that they used their powers," she said. "It's just too coincidental. Why now? The timing just does not make sense."