QUEENSBURY — Years ago, music teacher Penny Schiek listened to a young Delaney Silvernell sing on her home karaoke machine.
NEW YORK — The New York Times reported Tuesday that President Donald Trump received at least $413 million from his father over the decades, much of that through dubious tax dodges, including outright fraud.
The 15,000-word Times report contradicts Trump’s portrayal of himself as a self-made billionaire who started with just a $1 million loan from his father.
The Times says Trump and his father, Fred, avoided gift and inheritance taxes by setting up a sham corporation and undervaluing assets to tax authorities. The Times says its report is based on more than 100,000 pages of financial documents, including confidential tax returns from the father and his companies.
A lawyer for Trump, Charles J. Harder, told the Times that there was no “fraud or tax evasion” and that the facts cited in the report are “extremely inaccurate.”
The New York state tax department told The Associated Press that it is reviewing the allegations in the Times and “is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.” The department typically refers findings to the state attorney general’s office.
The Times says the Trump family hid millions of dollars of transfers from the father to his children through a sham company owned by the children called All County Building Supply & Maintenance. Set up in 1992 ostensibly as a purchasing agent to supply Fred Trump’s buildings with boilers, cleaning supplies and other goods, the father would pad invoices with markups of 20 percent or even 50 percent, thereby avoiding gift taxes, the newspaper reports.
The Times says that before Fred Trump died in the late 1990s, he transferred ownership of most of his real estate empire to his four living children. The value of the properties in tax returns summed up to $41.4 million, vastly less than the Times says they were worth.
The same properties would be sold off over the next decade for more than 16 times that amount.
In total, the president’s father and mother transferred over $1 billion to their children, according to the Times tally. That should have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million, based on a 55 percent tax on gifts and inheritance at the time.
Instead, the children paid $52.2 million, or about 5 percent.
Tax experts cited in the report say that Trump is unlikely to face criminal prosecution in helping his parents evade taxes because the maneuvers occurred long ago and are past the statute of limitation.
The president’s brother Robert Trump said that “all appropriate gift and estate tax returns” were filed. “Our family has no other comment on these matters that happened some 20 years ago,” he said in a statement to the Times, “and would appreciate your respecting the privacy of our deceased parents, may God rest their souls.”
The Times report says documents it reviewed show that the future president was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars at the age of 3. By the time Trump had graduated from college, the report says, he was getting the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father.
When he was campaigning, Trump repeatedly boasted of his ability to turn a small loan from his father into his fortune. “My father gave me a very small loan in 1975,” he said, “and I built it into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars.”
Delaney Silvernell didn’t see Kelly Clarkson turn her red chair around during the Blind Auditions on “The Voice” singing competition which aired Monday night.
“I actually didn’t notice,” Silvernell told The Post-Star Tuesday afternoon. “You would think that would be super obvious.”
In person, the big red chairs don’t make an explosive noise like the television audience hears, said Silvernell, who said she may have had her eyes closed or been looking somewhere else.
“All of a sudden, I looked up and Kelly was looking at me,” Silvernell said.
Silvernell said she was nervous before going out on stage, but when she saw Clarkson’s face, her nervousness doubled.
“I just kind of realized where I was and what I was doing,” she said. “It was very overwhelming.”
Silvernell made it through the Blind Auditions on “The Voice,” a four-time Emmy Award-winning show on NBC. The show features superstar coaches Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton and host Carson Daly.
It took only a few lines of the Shawn Mendes song “In My Blood,” and Clarkson was already a fan of the 21-year-old Queensbury native.
With her parents watching from the side of the stage — along with her college best friend and her two Los Angeles roommates — the denim jacket-clad Silvernell sang, “Help me; it’s like the walls are caving in. Sometimes I feel like giving up, but I just can’t. It isn’t in my blood.”
Clarkson pushed a button and swung her red chair around to watch Silvernell finish the song. Clarkson was the only judge to turn her chair, solidifying Silvernell on Team Kelly.
Clarkson, who stood and bounced around as Silvernell sang, told Silvernell that her tone and head voice were flawless and pretty.
“I love this song,” Clarkson told Silvernell. “I think it’s such a telling thing that you would pick it.”
Clarkson started her coaching immediately, too, telling Silvernell she thought she was trying to be perfect the whole time. She added that she was glad to be Silvernell’s coach and realized herself as an upcoming singer that she had to “let go, don’t try and be flawless, just do it.”
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Silvernell was asked about that feedback.
“Well first of all, I was really taken aback when she said that, because it was so true,” Silvernell said. “I was surprised that she could pick that right out from my minute or minute-and-a-half of singing. I think it was extremely intuitive of her to do.”
Clarkson also compared the singer to Cassadee Pope, who won the third season of “The Voice” in 2012.
“You’re going to be incredible, Delaney,” Clarkson said, “I’m so excited I get to be your coach.”
Then Clarkson presented her with a red jacket with “Team Kelly” on the back.
Silvernell has been auditioning for the television show since January and has known since June that she was on Team Kelly, but couldn’t tell anyone. She found out a couple days ago when her blind audition would actually air.
“Pretty much from January to June was me auditioning for ‘The Voice,’” Silvernell said.
After her audition, she said, Clarkson met with her and her parents backstage. Silvernell said she felt like she was talking to her new best friend.
“She was just very down to earth and friendly,” she said, adding, “you forget she’s this incredibly huge star.”
She and her parents and some friends gathered at Farmstead Flatbread in Queensbury to watch the show. Silvernell said she is happy to be able to finally share the news with people. She appreciates all the support she has received from the community.
“In LA, if I tell someone I’m on ‘The Voice,’” Silvernell said, “It’s like, ‘Okay, cool, and?’”
She heads back to Los Angeles on Thursday.
After three more episodes of Blind Auditions, the show will enter The Battles, during which coaches will pit two of their own team members against each other to sing the same song together in front of a studio audience. After the vocal battle, the coach must choose which of the singers will advance to the next round of competition. The losing artist is available to be stolen by another coach.
The show highlighted Silvernell’s wrestling background, which she said was a huge part of her youth. She wrestled with the Mat Rat program as an elementary school student. Her father and uncle both wrestled. Her mother was the team manager when she attended Queensbury, and Delaney held the same position in high school.
“It was definitely a huge community for us to be a part of,” she said.
In fact, the first time she ever sang on television was when she sang the national anthem at the state wrestling championships at the Times Union Center.
Several people noted that Queensbury wasn’t mentioned as Silvernell’s hometown on the show, she said.
“They only used about 5 percent of what we filmed,” said Silvernell, who said she mentioned several times that Queensbury was her hometown. She said much of the promotion for the show will be sent out to news outlets in upstate New York, not Los Angeles.
QUEENSBURY — Years ago, music teacher Penny Schiek listened to a young Delaney Silvernell sing on her home karaoke machine.
Also cut was Clarkson saying that “In My Blood” was the last song she heard on the radio before walking into the television studio the day of the audition, said Delaney’s mother, Tammy Silvernell.
“I’m a little relieved that it’s out,” Tammy Silvernell said Tuesday afternoon.
She said she could only see Delaney performing during the taping in June; she couldn’t see the judges. Then she finally realized that Clarkson had turned around.
“I lost it,” Tammy Silvernell said. “I totally ugly cried.”
Tammy Silvernell said the family appreciates the support of the locals, and noted how many are following her journey on social media.
The mom said she was incredibly proud of how far her daughter has come in the competition, as one of 48 out of 49,000 people who auditioned.
“She is one of 12 people Kelly Clarkson felt strongly enough to push the button for,” Tammy said.
Sharon Luce, the manager of the Lake George Youth Theatre, said she and her husband Mickey were crying at their house with overwhelming emotion as they watched Silvernell sing on national television Monday night.
Luce, who spent eight years with Silvernell in the youth theater, noted her remarkable performances as Aida in “Aida” and as Dorothy in “The Wiz,” and the many diverse roles she played.
“They all required many vocal ranges, and she nailed all of them,” Luce said.
She noted that Silvernell was once a shy girl who preferred to stay in the background. But now she has certainly found her voice.
“We could not be more proud of her,” Luce said. “She is such a talented young lady, and she deserves every minute of this.”
QUEENSBURY — Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of the former captain/treasurer of Lake George Rescue Squad who is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the organization.
Edward G. “Grant” Gentner won a significant victory before trial, as his lawyer managed to get 25 of 29 charges in an indictment against him dismissed on a technicality. The charges were found to have not been filed within the statute of limitations.
His lawyer, Joseph Brennan, made a motion in August to dismiss the bulk of the charges, because they were not filed within the 5 years required for felony charges. Judge John S. Hall Jr. granted the motion, leaving three felony charges of grand larceny and one count of falsifying business records that pertain to the theft of $3,900 in 2013.
In all, Gentner had been accused of stealing more than $18,000 in 2012 and 2013, but the charges related to alleged thefts in 2012 were dismissed because Hall found they were not filed in time.
Gentner, wearing a suit, sat silently as Brennan and Hamilton County District Attorney Marsha Purdue, serving as a special prosecutor in the case, offered opening statements to the eight-woman, four-man jury.
Purdue told the panel that Gentner took money from the squad’s bank account and put it in his own, and falsified department bank records to indicate one of the checks he used was to a fraternal fire department organization, pointing to three bank transactions in 2013.
The defense may claim that the money was reimbursement for expenses he incurred, but the squad had a procedure for such reimbursement and no such requests were made by Gentner, Purdue said.
“In this case, we trusted the defendant to do the right thing as treasurer, but we were wrong to do so,” she said.
Brennan, though, said Gentner’s actions were “entirely proper” and “misunderstood and misinterpreted” as he moved money between squad bank accounts.
“What he was doing was an acceptable procedure,” Brennan said.
Gentner was arrested by State Police in 2015. Squad leadership learned of discrepancies in the books when Gentner was voted out of the treasurer position after 2013, court records show. He had been a leader with the squad for 23 years at that point, but is no longer involved with it.
The Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office is handling the case as a special prosecutor because the Warren County District Attorney’s Office had a conflict of interest, as some of its staff was acquainted with Gentner.
The rescue squad’s insurance company reimbursed it $22,000 that the squad believed was taken by Gentner.
Trial is expected to last through the week, and possibly into next week.
Gentner, 50, of Lake George, faces up to 4 years in state prison on each charge. He is free on his own recognizance.
QUEENSBURY — Warren County has reached an agreement for a new 10-year deal with the company that handles flight operations at the county airport, with the contract expected to increase the county’s revenue by more than 50 percent the first year.
County leaders reached a “memorandum of agreement” with Rich Air LLC to serve as the airport’s fixed base operator for 10 more years, with an option for an additional 10 years at the end of the deal. Rich Air has been the fixed base operator since 2009.
The new agreement will give the county more revenue from the sale of fuel at the Queensbury airfield and from the hangars and airplane tie-downs that the county owns. Rich Air has guaranteed a minimum of $60,000 a year in rental and leasing revenue (corrected).
The county has been getting 7.5 cents per gallon from fuel sales, but will get 20 cents per gallon starting Jan. 1.
Warren County will also get revenue from two new jet hangars that are to be built.
Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty, vice chairman of the county Board of Supervisors Facilities Committee, said the deal was much better than the first one with Schermerhorn, which was negotiated solely by the county’s former administrator.
“I think it’s a great deal for the county and for Rich Schermerhorn. His company has spent a lot of money there and done a phenomenal job,” Beaty said. “We went back to Rich four times looking for concessions, and he agreed to work with us.”
Estimates are that the county’s revenue should hit at least $145,000 in 2019, compared to an estimated $83,000 this year and 2017. The contract also stipulates that rental fees will increase by the consumer price index adjustment annually, if it goes up.
“In 2020 with the new hangars, we should be close to $165,000,” Beaty said.
The 11-member Facilities Committee approved the memorandum of understanding on Monday.
“I think it’s good for both parties and a better deal for the county than the one we had,” Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said.
Bolton Supervisor Ronald Conover, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said the contract will increase airport revenue as the county also cuts the operating budget at the airport, with retirements and a change in staffing levels helping to reduce the budget by nearly $200,000 this year.
Rich Air owner Rich Schermerhorn said the negotiations went on over 18 months, and he was satisfied that the end result will allow his company to continue to build on the progress it has made. He has put up new hangars, opened a new restaurant and grown business during his company’s tenure as fixed base operator.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “We came to an agreement that works well for the county and me.”
He said there are now five jets based at the airport, with one or two more possible in the coming months when new hangars are complete.
A public hearing on the proposed deal will be held at either the Oct. 19 Board of Supervisors meeting or the Nov. 16 meeting, depending on a finalization and review of the contract language.
While some supervisors had pushed to find a private operator to run the entire airport and Rich Air had expressed interest in the idea, the board has decided at this stage to retain control after a request for proposals did not result in any proposals that supervisors found sufficient.
Schermerhorn’s employees had a strained relationship with the airport’s county-employed former manager and the county’s former Department of Public Works superintendent. But Geraghty said the situation has improved significantly, with changes in airport manager and DPW superintendent in recent months.
“It’s amazing the depth of knowledge that Don DeGraw has brought,” Beaty said, about the new airport manager.
Schermerhorn agreed and said the county’s staff and his staff have a great relationship now.