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State Sen. Chaudhary owes IRS more than $250,000

DULUTH - The Minnesota state senator who pushed through last-minute legislation for Fish Lake that contributed to the governor's veto of a major fish and game bill is the subject of a federal tax lien for $252,000 in past-due income taxes, the News Tribune has learned.

Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, and his wife, Denise, failed to pay $100,000 in income taxes in 2007 and $151,000 in 2008, according to tax records.

Chaudhary, who owns a home on Fish Lake that would have been affected by his legislation, told the News Tribune on Thursday that the delinquent taxes were due to his wife's wrongful termination by Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company.

"It forced her to exercise or lose some of her stock options," he said. "In general, she had to use some of her stocks to purchase other stocks, and so that led to a huge tax liability."

He said his wife has filed a wrongful termination suit against Celgene with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

He said he didn't know the reason for the 2007 tax delinquency and was checking with his accountant to learn more.

The state senator, who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, stirred controversy in May when the News Tribune first reported that he promoted end-of-session legislation in the natural resources bill that would require walleye possession restrictions on Fish Lake, north of Duluth.

He later apologized for what he said was a hasty decision after lake residents complained and promised to repeal the ordinance during the next session. However, Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the entire natural resources bill, in part because of Chaudhary's Fish Lake legislation.

Late last month, the DFL committee of the suburban Twin Cities district he represents stripped Chaudhary of his endorsement and backed a challenger in the primary.

Chaudhary said he has a plan with the IRS to pay his taxes "pretty quickly."

"The tax impact is part of the damages we're seeking from Celgene," he said.

The state DFL party had no comment on the back taxes, spokeswoman Kristin Sosanie said.

The Duluth News Tribune and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.