Omaha councilman gets 4 years probation for not filing tax returns; city officials say he shouldn't be VP
Omaha City Councilman Vincent Palermo was sentenced to four years probation Wednesday morning for failing to file his tax returns.
The government recommended 6-12 months in prison.
According to a release, Palermo must also pay a $35,000 fine along with $21,209 in restitution. As part of his probation requirement, Palermo will need to complete 120 hours of community service.
"I fail to see the benefits to the public by sending him to prison," the judge said.
to three counts of willful failure to file income tax returns for 2012, 2013, and 2014 tax years.
His attorney, James Martin Davis, noted earlier this month that the guilty plea for not filing three years of tax returns is a misdemeanor, not a felony.
"Actually I'm very relieved," Palermo told 6 News. "This has been going on for about three years now. I appreciated the judge's verdict, and obviously the government and my attorney for coming up with this resolution."
Palermo told the court he has learned from his mistakes and has hired a better accountant — one who didn't go to prison for tax fraud.
When asked whether he believes he has lost the trust from the public as a steward of taxpayer money, Palermo responded: "I don't think it takes away the trust. Obviously, it conveys the fact that I ran for working harder than anybody else for this spot, not that I was ever perfect by any means."
He said he will continue to push forward and do the work of District Four because that's what his supporters expect him to do.
"I think the constituents who have supported me know who I am and where I am from; and in all honesty, when you get knocked down, you get back up and fight harder," he said. "That's what my constituents expect and what I give them.".
released a statement Wednesday saying, in part, that he thinks it would be in Omaha's best interest for Palermo to step down from his role as vice president.
"Ultimately, that decision should be made by his constituents in District 4," Harding said. "However, in the interim, I again ask that in the best interests of the taxpayers of Omaha that he step down from his position as vice president of the Omaha City Council." [
echoed those sentiments in her statement on the matter.
"The Omaha City Council does not have the ability to sanction or remove a Councilmember for a misdemeanor pursuant to the City Charter. However, Mr. Palermo should at least step down as Vice President of the Council and issue an apology," she said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. [
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert's statement, also released Wednesday afternoon, focused on the city's charter allowing the council to remove members from office:
"The residents of City Council District 4 deserve the best and most focused representation possible. The final legal step in this process now concluded, Councilman Palermo will now have that opportunity as long as he is on the Council. The Omaha City Charter provides the full City Council the authority to remove any member from office for reasons outlined in the Charter.”
The Douglas County Republican Party also weighed in on the matter:
BREAKING: Omaha city councilman Vinny Palermo sentenced to 4-years probation for not filing tax returns. Government recommended 6-12 months in prison. Federal Judge: "I fail to see the benefits to the public by sending him to prison." @WOWT6News pic.twitter.com/lmZT44E2j3— Brian Mastre WOWT (@brianmastrewowt) December 18, 2019