Over the past six months, Erik Fresen has established himself as the go-to politician for the gambling tycoons who want to bring gargantuan casino resorts to the Magic City.
The Cuban-American state representative from Coral Gables is the mastermind behind one of two proposed bills that would allow Malaysian-based Genting or one of its Las Vegas competitors to build gambling castles in downtown Miami or at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Under his proposal, casinos would share only a measly 10 percent of revenues with the state.
Considering Fresen's own issues with the IRS, maybe it's no shock that he's not putting taxpayers first.
According to Miami-Dade court records, Fresen owes close to 30 grand in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and $641,000 to his mortgage lender. For a guy who claims a personal net worth of $330,000, that is a lot of debt. Even worse, he didn't list the obligations on his most recent financial disclosure statements with the state's Division of Elections.
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Under Florida law, it is illegal for public officials to omit liabilities on the declaration form.
On Fresen's 2010 disclosure sheet, he lists $113,000 in Sallie Mae student loans as his only liability. But the IRS recently filed a lien against Fresen, claiming he did not pay $7,274 in income taxes he owed in 2004, as well as $21,925 owed for 2007. That's not all. In 2009, La Salle Bank won a $641,000 final judgment for foreclosure on Fresen's Coral Gables residence. Because the debts occurred before 2010, Fresen should have included them among his liabilities.
It is not the first time the politician, a "land use consultant" first elected in 2008, has been accused of breaking the rules. Last year he paid $10,000 in fines for submitting incomplete and late campaign reports between 2008 and 2009. This past April, a Tallahassee mom filed a state ethics complaint against him. Trish Thompson alleges Fresen helped slip language into a charter school bill that would benefit a charter school company called Academica that employs his sister and brother-in-law.
Fresen didn't respond to multiple messages left at his Tallahassee and Miami offices.