David Engler, a candidate for the Democratic nomination to the 7th District Court of Appeals, has $161,616 in liens filed by the IRS on his property for unpaid taxes, according to documentation filed at the Mahoning County Recorder’s Office.
Of that amount, $154,193 is for unpaid personal federal taxes and $7,423 for taxes not paid by his law practice.
The amount would be higher, but Engler, of Canfield, made a $5,313 payment to the Internal Revenue Service in October 2011.
Despite the IRS paperwork, Engler contends the amount is about $50,000 to $60,000, and said he’s making a $20,000 payment later this month.
“These issues arise when you have a small business,” he said. “Penalties and interest are about 60 percent of the amount. The IRS interest and penalties are worse than a loan shark.”
Engler said the issue “doesn’t damage” his campaign.
“It poses a challenge and I’m dealing with it,” he said. “It’s an issue that deserves to be addressed. You have to pay your taxes.”
Engler’s tax issues started Dec. 31, 2006, and he said he’s been making payments for about two years.
Also, Engler owes $11,345 to the Ohio Department of Taxation with a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court order to pay the money two months ago. Engler said he resolved the matter two weeks ago.
Engler, a county educational service center board member and former county commissioner, is running against Youngstown Deputy Law Director Anthony Donofrio in the May 6 Democratic primary for a seat on the court of appeals.
Judge Joseph J. Vukovich isn’t seeking re-election, leaving the seat open in this year’s election. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Judge Carol Ann Robb of Columbiana County Municipal Court, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
Donofrio declined Tuesday to discuss Engler’s issues, except to say, “I don’t think it’s becoming of a judicial candidate to be negative. People expect more from judicial candidates.”
It was only a week ago that Engler called for Donofrio to withdraw as a candidate because the latter’s brother, Judge Gene Donofrio, already serves on the court.
Engler brought it up again Tuesday, and questioned if Anthony Donofrio knew of the corrupt activities of former county Prosecutor James A. Philomena when he worked for him in the 1990s. Philomena, who died in 2007, was convicted in 1999 of racketeering.
Donofrio said Tuesday he wouldn’t respond and “people can judge me on my career.”
Donofrio said last week that Engler “should be more worried about his character,” mentioning a 2006 public reprimand from the Ohio Supreme Court for having a consensual sexual relationship with a client in 2004.
Engler said last week that he “learned from my mistake” and that it was 10 years ago.