Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Pete Rose pays off tax lien

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Baseball legend Pete Rose has paid off a $151,689 federal tax lien that baseball officials said played a part in their decision not to lift a lifetime ban that has kept the all-time hits leader out of the Hall of Fame.

The Los Angeles County Recorder's Office confirmed Tuesday that a lien on the $1 million condominium Rose owns in Sherman Oaks was released July 10, although it took several weeks to be recorded.

The lien, first reported by the Enquirer in January, stemmed from Rose's failure to pay his 1998 income taxes. The California Franchise Tax Board also filed a $2,772 lien against Rose over his 1997 state tax filing, but it was paid off in 2000. The liens were unconnected to charges of tax evasion that landed him in a federal prison for five months in 1990.

"He cleaned his slate with the government," said Steve Wolter, longtime friend of Rose and owner of Sports Investment Inc. in Montgomery. "It was a huge detriment and it had to be cleaned up. Now it is a question of what else is out there."

Court records in New York, New Jersey and Florida show Rose or a company he was associated with failed to pay two other liens and ignored two other court-ordered judgments, including one for $26,000 in hotel bills and another saying Rose reneged on a contract to make a public appearance.

Paying off the lien was critical for Rose, who has been fighting to get reinstated into Major League Baseball since being banned for life 13 years ago for allegedly betting on sporting events while manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

Rose has adamantly denied the accusations.

Reinstatement seemed within his grasp early this year. But baseball officials put the skids on those talks after learning of the liens and hearing reports that Rose was seen betting in Las Vegas casinos.

Neither Rose nor his agent returned calls Tuesday.

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