The Queen of Mean Ends Up In Jail – 12/12/1989

History |

Does the concept regarding bad karma really exist? When a person treats others as if they were put on Earth to simply serve him/her, is there a cosmic balance that dictates that individual will get theirs at a later time in life? Whatever your belief may be, it does seem as if sooner or later that there is truth to the saying that what goes around, comes around. 

One example of this takes places a couple of decades ago on December 12th, 1989. Leona Helmsley stands before a judge as she is sentenced to four years in prison, a $7.1 million fine for tax fraud and 750 hours of community service in New York. The press gave her the nickname the “Queen of Mean” and she became the focus of disgust and loathing by many when came up with the pun that “only the little people pay taxes.”

Known as one of the richest moguls of real estate, Leona’s husband Harry had property holdings roughly worth $5 billion to $10 million. Although the couple owned a sort after mansion that resided in Greenwich, Connecticut; they lived in an amazing penthouse with a great view of Central Park. Leona was in charge of operations of the Helmsley Palace located on Madison Avenue but her employee’s severe dislike of her suggested trouble in so-called paradise.

Despite the hotel and their homes show being furnished lavishly, the wealthy couple interestingly was meticulous on how they dodged the mandated taxes and payments for what they bought. Most of the furniture purchased for their home was deducted as a business expense while there were accusations of free furnishings being extorted from those who supplied them. Contractors had their issues with the Helmsley’s as payment was rarely on time, in some cases not at all, and a large amount of them filed lawsuits in which only a part of what was due to them was ever recovered. Leona attempted to avoid the sales tax in New York on hundreds of thousands of dollars on jewelry she purchased by having boxes that were empty be delivered to Connecticut.

Sadly, lots of people were filled with glee over the legal problems she was facing given that her personality was so offensive. Celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz even was unsuccessful in trying to get her immunity from the law. Federal Judge John Walker, once Leona was convicted, reprimanded her publicly by saying, “Your conduct was the product of naked greed [and] the arrogant belief that you were above the law.” Helmsley was imprisoned in 1992 and was eventually released two years later. Her husband died in 1997 while Leona found herself in court again in 2002 as a former employee, Charles Bell, was suing her on the accusation that she dismissed him only because he happened to be gay; Helmsley was ordered by the jury to compensate Charles in damages exceeding $11 million dollars. Leona passed away at age 87 in August of 2007. Her last famous act was to award her dog named Trouble $12 million dollars.

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Cody Cartier

The "Boss"

Cody is a native of Tampa Bay, Florida and lets it be known on a daily basis. Each day he is wearing some kind of Tampa Bay sports apparel, mainly that of the Buccaneers. He is a season ticket holder and hopes to one day see them make it back to the Super bowl. He started as our resident photographer, but has found that his talent lies in writing.