Tell me- have they all gone MAD?
I think the answer to that is YES- Those in power have gone stark raving insane over the last decade! WTF? Is it the water? Ohhh silly me- It's the love of money!
November 11, 2007
Lawyers and executives for the $1 billion World Trade Center insurance fund - who've already spent more than $100 million in overhead and legal fees - are also wining and dining with money meant for sick 9/11 responders, records show.
Invoices obtained by The Post show that high-paid lawyers and employees of the WTC Captive Insurance Co., a nonprofit governed by Mayor Bloomberg appointees, have tapped the federal fund for cocktails and gourmet dinners.
After a court hearing in Manhattan last year, when the city argued unsuccessfully to dismiss all claims by 9/11 responders, a top lawyer for the fund filed an expense report totaling $1,390 for "drinks and dinner."
The June 23, 2006, tab submitted by Margaret Warner of the Washington, D.C., firm McDermott, Will & Emery included $138 for "cocktails" for six at Sir Harry's, a plush bar inside the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The dimly lit lounge, decorated with antique oil paintings, serves $8 Budweisers and highballs for $12 and up.
Warner billed another $342 to spend the night at the luxe Park Avenue hotel.
After Sir Harry's, she and seven others ran up a $1,250 bill for "food and beverage" at Giovanni Ristoranti on West 55th Street, which boasts two Michelin stars. The cheapest bottle of wine goes for $50, and the northern-Italian cuisine features entrees like veal chop Milanese ($38.75).
Besides Warner - who bills the fund $583 an hour - the diners included James Tyrrell, the city's lead defense lawyer; two colleagues from his firm, Patton Boggs; and WTC Captive CEO James Schoenbeck and general counsel David Biester.
Warner's firm billed a total of $1,543 for "business meals" in August 2006, including the June feast.
The WTC captive fund manages $1 billion in 9/11 federal aid awarded by Congress to cover claims from the Ground Zero cleanup and protect the city's coffers from huge liability.
A spokesman, Caroline Gentile, defended the meals: "It is perfectly appropriate for the WTC Captive to reimburse its outside counsel for expenses, including dinner meetings incurred for a legitimate business purpose."
Warner's representative said she billed for the June 23 drinks "in error." Warner said she will reimburse the captive and look for other such errors.
Gentile said the captive will review other meal bills.
Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler was appalled by the fancy food and booze.
"The captive fund was never meant to serve as an open-ended expense account for well-paid lawyers," he told The Post. "Every dime wasted is money that could, and should, have gone to those who continue to suffer because of their exposure at Ground Zero."
A 9/11 responder agreed. "They're having lobster tail and champagne while I'm scheduled for another surgery," said retired NYPD Detective John Walcott, 42, who has fought leukemia.
The fund's financial reports through Sept. 30 show it has churned through more than $100 million in administrative and legal fees since 2004. Because of interest earned, the fund still has $15 million more than when it started, Gentile said.
It has paid out $320,000 to six workers with "orthopedic injuries." Most of the 8,600 other claims cite respiratory and toxic injuries.
Additional reporting by Susannah Cahalan