Prominent criminal defense lawyer Joseph Santaguida reached a settlement yesterday with the city to pay a $108,000 tax bill, but he complained that Mayor Nutter was only going after white people for back taxes.
As an attorney representing Santaguida was making a down payment of $20,000, sheriff's deputies went to his law office at 121 S. Broad St. threatening to sell off his personal property.
Santaguida arrived and complained to reporters that the mayor was unfairly targeting white people for collection of delinquent taxes, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. He later tried to explain that he was not accusing Nutter of being a racist.
"I just said it's a wonder that the only people he's going after are Caucasians," Santaguida said, according to the Daily News. "There's a lot of other people who owe more money than me who are African American."
When reached by telephone, Santaguida said he did not want to comment further. "Give it a rest," he said angrily. "There are more important things."
When asked about Santaguida's observations, Nutter said: "When it comes to delinquent taxes, the only color I care about is green – the color of money. Every Philadelphian should pay their taxes."
Santaguida's settlement required him to make the $20,000 payment by 11 a.m. yesterday. He is required to pay the remaining $88,000 by noon on May 1.
He had owed $154,831.57 in back taxes, interest and penalties, the city reported. The settlement was limited to what he owed in business privilege taxes, interest and penalties from 1998 to 2006.
Robert Gamburg, another lawyer at 121 S. Broad St., has agreed to pay the city $132,515.61 in back taxes.
Last month, Nutter held a news conference outside the building to highlight an effort to go after tax deadbeats.
Gamburg confronted Nutter and asked why the mayor chose his building for the news conference.
"I'm not going to argue with you on the sidewalk," Nutter said. "You owe the city money. Pay your taxes."
Gamburg's father, Jerome, who also is a lawyer working out of the building, still owes the city $84,566.67, the mayor's office said.