DEATH'S DOLLARS: The abortionist, accused of murders, made at least $1.8M a year. He says he's broke. Where did it all go?

This house, at 1022 N. Shore Drive, is Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Brigantine, N.J., getaway, assessed last year at $984,000.
This house, at 1022 N. Shore Drive, is Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Brigantine, N.J., getaway, assessed last year at $984,000.
Posted: February 07, 2011

HOW MANY severed baby spines does it take to pay for a $984,000 shore house?

How many severed infant feet is a boat worth?

And what part of Kermit Gosnell's clinic paid to keep his mistress, 41 years younger, on the payroll?

As investigators and civil attorneys build their case against Gosnell, charged last month with killing seven babies and a woman at his hellish West Philly clinic, a larger question looms:

What did he do with the money?

According to the grand jury's report, it's estimated that Gosnell, 69, made almost $1.8 million each year in abortions alone - and most of it was cash from desperate, poor women.

That figure does not account for any of the money he took in from allegedly selling illegal prescriptions to drug addicts in his community, including his notable distinction of being one of the top three prescribers of OxyContin in Pennsylvania, something federal authorities continue to investigate.

But when brought before a judge Friday to explain why he and his wife, Pearl, had not hired attorneys, Gosnell claimed to be broke.

The judge didn't buy it and refused to appoint public defenders for the couple. They have until Wednesday to hire a lawyer.

Just where all the blood and drug money went is still unknown, according to Sol Weiss, senior partner at Anapol Schwartz, the firm representing the family of Karnamaya Mongar, the patient whom Gosnell is accused of murdering.

"You just don't do the things he did unless you're motivated totally by greed," Weiss said. "We're doing our own investigation into the money, but we don't have any answers right now. I don't think anybody does."

Joanne Pescatore and Christine Wechsler, the assistant district attorneys prosecuting the case, agreed.

"The money's unaccounted for," Pescatore said. "The only thing we know about is the money taken out of the house."

When investigators searched Gosnell's massive, three-story brick home at 32nd Street and Mantua Avenue, they discovered $240,000 in cash and a gun in a filing cabinet in his 12-year-old daughter's bedroom, according to the grand jury report.

A bayside house and more

Aside from hiding their profits in their little girl's closet, Gosnell and his wife also invested in real estate. Together, they own as many as 17 properties, according to published reports; prosecutors said they know of at least seven. That includes at least five in Philadelphia and a house with two decks and a boat dock in Brigantine.

Last week, a boat sat covered in front of the shore house, which is near a golf course and just minutes from Atlantic City. At the rear of the house, a wall of windows provides a stunning view overlooking Somers Bay.

According to the Atlantic County Board of Taxation, the Gosnells bought the shore house in 1992 for $275,000. It was assessed last year at $984,000.

Gosnell's assets stand in stark contrast to the bargain-basement conditions at his West Philadelphia clinic, where blood caked the floor, fetuses filled the freezers and rusted, infected equipment spread venereal diseases, according to the grand jury's report.

The doctor spent little of his money on the clinic, and hired unqualified staffers so that he could pay them meager wages, often in cash, grand jurors said. He also "insisted" on reusing plastic instruments that were supposed to be used only once, the grand jury said.

He didn't even spend money on robes for his patients, who instead were covered with bloodstained blankets, the report said.

"The only thing Gosnell seemed to care about was the cash he raked in from his illegal operations," grand jurors wrote. "Because the real business of the 'Women's Medical Society' was not health; it was profit."

So what did he spend it on?

Aside from the properties, Gosnell has a motorboat and a Dodge Durango, both of which were parked last week in the driveway of the Brigantine house.

Meanwhile, parked in front of Gosnell's Mantua home were a snow-covered Ford F-150 pickup truck, which neighbors said that Gosnell drove, and a Ford Expedition, which neighbors said that his wife drove. In the dirt on Gosnell's truck, someone had written: "A--HOLE."

'Sick thrills'

That characterization is an understatement, according to one of Gosnell's victims, now 28, who was forced by a relative to get an abortion at age 15. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said that she hated to think that Gosnell was living large off the money he made from poor, desperate women.

"He was really taking advantage of people in the community," she said. "That is a shame, because he's a black man and it seems he was trying to prosper by taking advantage of black women in his community.

"He just wanted his money and his sick thrills," she said.

Nine of Gosnell's underpaid staffers, including his wife, were arrested along with him and may face more charges if they never reported their income, said Daniel Tessoni, accounting professor at the Saunders College of Business, at Rochester Institute of Technology.

"If he was paying them in cash, they'll face tax-evasion charges," he said.

Michael Baldwin, the husband of Tina Baldwin, one of the nine staffers who also were charged in the grand-jury report, said that his wife was paid pathetic wages and wasn't given health care.

"She didn't like it there," he said. "She had no benefits. Well, he told her she had medical until she went to use it and there was no medical."

A 'fling'

One "staffer" did seem to have it pretty good, though.

Jennifer Leach, now 28, told the grand jury that she met Gosnell when she was a 17-year-old patient at the clinic, and that he paid her $300 a week to provide what she called "psychosocial counseling" one day a week, according to the report.

Leach, who had no training as a counselor, testified that she usually didn't even show up to work.

Leach admitted to the grand jury that she and Gosnell - who is 41 years older - had a "fling" on and off for a couple of years.

Gosnell married his third and current wife, Pearl, now 50, in 1990, but Leach said that her affair with Gosnell ended just a week before she testified to the grand jury last year.

The Daily News was unable to locate Leach - who has an 11-year-old child, the report said - for comment.

"There could be much more diverted to her off payroll like cars, trips and jewelry," said Tessoni, the accounting professor.

Tax, waste debts alleged

Gosnell also allegedly stiffed the government on his taxes and his medical-waste-disposal provider on his bills.

He owes the state $8,579 in employer-withholding-liability taxes dating to 1984 for a failed halfway house in Mantua, and another $7,142 in personal-income taxes from 2002 to 2007, according to a spokeswoman from the state Department of Revenue.

A spokesman for the city controller's office said that Gosnell is also $3,902 behind on city real-estate taxes for his clinic.

A spokesman for the IRS declined to comment on any federal taxes that Gosnell may owe, but a federal IRS lien filed in Philadelphia in 2008 for $7,463 remains active, according to online civil-court records.

According to the grand-jury report, Gosnell failed to pay even the most important of bills - for disposal of medical waste. When he wouldn't pay, the disposal provider wouldn't service his clinic and fetuses sat for months in freezers, and medical waste piled up in the basement, the report said.

When investigating just how much cash Gosnell may have made, authorities first may look at people who filled prescriptions written by Gosnell, said Tessoni.

He said that investigators may charge those who repeatedly filled Gosnell's prescriptions and offer them plea deals to a reduced charge if they admit what they paid him for each prescription.

"That would give a framework of what he was making," Tessoni said. "We really don't ask the person in question, 'How much did you make?' We go to external sources."

Forensic investigators also will determine from whom he purchased his properties and how he paid, whether by cash or check, or from an account in another country, Tessoni said.

"Then, of course, there is credence in looking at his lifestyle, how he lived, his houses, his cars and any evidence that he did a lot of traveling," Tessoni said.

"Apparently, he lived with little fear that his activities would be detected, but there are ways, pretty effective ways, investigators can come up with estimates that courts would find acceptable."

Tessoni said that Gosnell also will face charges for not reporting his cash income.

Meanwhile, back in Gosnell's neighborhood, a maintenance man who has worked at Mantua Garden East apartments just up the street from Gosnell's house for 19 years, said that addicts in the neighborhood are buzzing after Gosnell's arrest.

"Everybody's talking now," said the man, who asked to be identified only as Durand. "All the druggies are talking about where they're gonna go, now that the doc's gone."

Gosnell's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday - his 70th birthday, according to court documents.

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