Wednesday, January 26, 2011

National Arts Club dining manager who stole thousands from club earns $250k ... from the club

Wednesday, January 26th 2011, 3:19 PM

Joseph Frappaolo is even described as a "key employee" on a 2008 tax form, which claims he works 84 hours a week and reveals his salary is personally set by club president Aldon James.
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Joseph Frappaolo is even described as a "key employee" on a 2008 tax form, which claims he works 84 hours a week and reveals his salary is personally set by club president Aldon James.

The venerable National Arts Club pays its dining room manager a $247,000 salary even though he was caught stealing thousands from the club.

Joseph Frappaolo is even described as a "key employee" on a 2008 tax form, which claims he works 84 hours a week and reveals his salary is personally set by club president Aldon James.

Frappaolo, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to skimming more than $160,000 in state and city sales taxes, refused to speak with a reporter Wednesday.

"I have no comment," said Frappaolo, 55, who avoided jail by paying back more than $340,000 in interest and penalties.

"I'm serving lunch right now."

There also was no immediate comment from James, the colorful, bow-tie wearing Manhattan mover and shaker who has been credited with revitalizing the once-stodgy club since taking over in 1985.

A club spokesman said they were preparing to address questions about Frappaolo's role at the 113-year-old institution, whose members have included writer Mark Twain, movie-maker Martin Scorcese and actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

Fishy finances are not new to the club, which was investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney's office in the 1990s.

James' twin brother, John, pleaded guilty in 2003 to misusing the club's tax free status to peddle millions of dollars worth of jewelry.

He also avoided jail by paying $469,213 in restitution and $60,000 in criminal fines.

Despite that, John James has been allowed to rent an apartment in the club's jewel box Gramercy Park building for just $356 a month - well below the market rate, records show.

James, who is not paid for his work as club president, and several other club trustees also occupy reduced-rate apartments in the landmark Tilden Mansion, according to the tax document.

James pays the club's executive chef, Robert Ahle, a $124,004 annual salary and claims on the tax form he works 60 hours a week.

While the National Art Club's stated mission is "to stimulate, foster and promote public interest" in fine arts, the club handed out just $39,349 in grants to artists in 2008-2009.

During the same period, the club reported $37,270 in travel expenses.


csiemaszko@nydailynews.com



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