Monday, May 02, 2005

NRCC: Now Rewarding Common Criminals

We like to add a little snap to the openings of our daily missives. Sometimes we spend almost a minute coming up with those first few perfect words. Mostly though, we end up having to go with words we can spell. Limits the options. Today however we have to admit that even were we to write this blog sober with a dictionary, we couldn't have said it better than the opening sentence from the Nashua Telegraph, to wit:

"Ira Stern, convicted of stealing more than $600,000 in a business loan scam received an award from the National Republican Congressional Committee honoring his business leadership."

But wait. It gets even better: "The awards were given by NRCC, and announced by House Majority Leader Tom Delay." Some days it's just too easy.

According to Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Alex Burgos, the awards committee was not aware of Stern's conviction. "If we had been aware of it, he would not have been recognized at a dinner and tax reform workshop in Washington, D.C., at which President Bush was the keynote speaker. We'd have mailed him the award like we usually do in these cases. In a plain brown wrapper."

Stern said he didn't do much to earn the award. "Yeah I fleeced a couple of pigeons for a few bucks, but I'm nowhere near in the same league as the guys at that dinner."

In 1996 Stern was sentenced to 2 to five years in prison and ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to felony theft charges. He admitted to bilking 14 local businesses and individuals out of a total of more than $600,000 through an “advance fee loan scam.” Stern admitted at the time he took the money as fees, claiming he would arrange venture capital loans, but never made any loans.

He is now trying to rebuild his life and support his family with his business-consulting firm. When asked what the nature of his consulting firm was Stern replied that he helped businesses develop preliminary charging systems for their loans. "It's all perfectly legit," he said, "We're having some minor glitches getting the systems finalized, but if my clients will just be patient a little longer I'm sure we can work everything out. If not, I'll offer them full refunds of their deposits."

When asked if it was true he would not attend the reception because he was planning to be out of the country then, Stern replied, "It' vacation to Mexico."

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