Where Did The Week Go…
I’ve discussed stupid criminals on this column many times before, but this time I might have to award the great state of Oregon the stupidity trophy over a simple technicality.
Krystle Marie Reyes, a 25-year-old woman from Salem was sentenced Wednesday to 5 1/2 years in prison for tax evasion and three counts of felony fraud after she duped the state of Oregon into giving her a $2.1 million tax refund.
How did Reyes, who for the past two years had earned less than $15,000 per year, manage to convince the state to make her a millionaire? Was it because she helped the elderly at retirement facilities and senior care homes? Perhaps it’s because she had no previous criminal history so they decided to reward her for good behavior.
No instead Reyes decided to report that she had earned more than $3 million in 2011. While completing an electronic tax return in late January via Turbo Tax, Reyes probably took one look at her yearly income and like many of us said, “Is that it?”
After filing the return, her multi-million dollar refund request was flagged by an automated system. The return was set aside for review by tax experts for potential fraud but before they could get the three agency employees needed to override the flagged payment, a single Revenue employee overrode it and the refund was awarded to Ms. Reyes.
It seemed like Reyes was going to get away with it. But then she made a mistake. The woman received the refund on a debit card and spent about $150,000 before twice reporting the card lost or stolen. At that point her con had been discovered and she was arrested on June 6.
The state was able to recover about $1.9 million, but what did Reyes do with the other $200,000? She decided to live comfortably by purchasing a queen-sized air mattress, a sofa and a recliner. Her spending spree also included about $1,800 in cash to buy a 1999 Dodge Caravan and $851 on tires and wheels.
So a woman is given more than $2 million because no one personally opened the file to look at her W-2. For the next few months she led the good life buying furniture, kitchen aide and a car (Why a ’99 Dodge?) Obviously what she did was wrong, but what about the employees who allowed this to happen?
Two of the four employees have been reassigned to jobs in which they will no longer have the authority to approve cash refunds while the other two received unspecified disciplinary action.
Egypt Olympic team gets uniform knockoffs
Last week I talked about the NBA eventually featuring sponsorship patches on their uniforms and how that was a terrible but predictable plan. I would be fine if all the uniforms had was a Nike swoosh or an Adidas log. Nike seems to be on everything anyways so that would be fine by me.
But there seems to be one thing Nike or Adidas isn’t on — not legitimately anyways — and that’s Egypt’s Olympic gear. According to the country’s committee chairman, Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed Ali, Egypt couldn’t afford the real thing due to the country’s current economic situation so they decided to go with counterfeits made in China.
Ali referred to the fakes as “sufficient” but tell that to the athletes wearing them. Synchronized swimmer Yomna Khallaf wrote on Twitter that she spent more than $300 of her own money to buy better training gear.
“It’s so frustrating that we had to pay extra 2000 (Egyptian) pounds to have other proper stuff to wear so that we can look okay not even good,” she tweeted.
The bags that were given to the athletes have large Nike logos on the front, but the zippers say Adidas. It’s a tough situation, but Egypt has to be frugal in how they spend their money, even if it’s at the expense of the athletes representing their country in the Olympics.
An uprising followed by 17 months of political unrest have decimated Egypt’s tourism industry and driven investors away. The country’s foreign currency dropped by more than one-half since the uprising so money is tight.
With 112 athletes represented, in addition to coaches, doctors and other representatives, this is a tacky but necessary compromise. With designer sports labels ranging in price from $300 to $500 per athlete, you do the math and decide if it’s worth it to look good while you compete?
(Update): Egypt’s Olympic team won’t be wearing Chinese knockoffs after all. Nike said Friday it was donating its gear to the Egyptian athletes. I stand corrected. Apparently it is important to look good while going for gold.
Netflix Instant Pick: Outside Providence
My pick this week is a coming-of-age film about a kid from Pawtucket, Rhode Island who gets into trouble far too often. Tim Dunphy is bored with the way his life is going. Yeah he has a lot of friends, everyone in town knows him (Because it’s small and all) and he enjoys being young by partying and getting thrown in jail on a regular basis.
But after getting arrested once again, his father arranges for him to be placed into a prep school in Cornwall, Connecticut. The terms: Graduate, or else.
The film works because it’s able to balance the raunchy humor with legitimate emotion. Dunphy, played by Shawn Hatosy, isn’t particularly bright, nor does he suddenly become smart by the end after attending prep school, but he still follows an arc that is both funny and heartfelt. The film could have easily been comprised of mindless one-liners, but the jokes never come at the expense of the story.
Of course if you’re going to have a film about a kid trying to grow up, you’re going to have a love interest and once again the movie impressed me with not following the conventional path of the pretty girl.
The filmmakers didn’t resort to making Amy Smart parade around in tight tops and short skirts in order to convey her beauty. She’s smarter than Dunphy and clearly out of his league, but the film doesn’t go down that road. For one school year these two characters just have a connection and it’s an enjoyable ride.
But the best thing about this movie is Dunphy’s dad played by Alec Baldwin. A blue-collar worker from a small town, Tim Dunphy is hard on his son. His nickname for his son is a certain female sex toy and he makes him hitchhike around town. But he loves him and he wants what’s best for him without showing too much emotion.
When attempting to give his son some advice for having sex, old man Dunphy says, “Making sex is like a Chinese dinner: It ain’t over ’til you both get your cookies.” He has a lot of great one-liners like that.
The film was made in 1999, takes place in the ’70s and it’s refreshingly politically incorrect. On the surface it appears that the filmmakers are making fun of the handicapped, homosexuals and drug use. This isn’t a film that could be made today. But the story needs these touchy issues so that the characters can grow and learn something by the end.
Outside Providence features a strong cast, a smart and funny screenplay, an awesome ’70s soundtrack and a story that’s both entertaining and endearing.