NEW YORK (AP) _ The city's payroll chief and 93 other municipal workers were charged with avoiding payment of $525,000 in income taxes, sometimes by claiming allegiance to anti-tax groups whose members disavow U.S. citizenship.

One of those charged was Joseph A. Messina, a commissioner whose office oversees the city's financial records. Officials said Messina, who earns $133,000 a year, failed to file tax returns for three years.

Most of the other workers charged Tuesday work as guards for the Corrections Department.

About half the defendants told authorities they are part of tax protest movements or adhere to a so-called ``Freemen'' philosophy in which individuals renounce U.S. citizenship and refuse to pay taxes.

Messina, who did not claim membership in any anti-tax group, did not return a phone call to his office.

About 40 workers were in custody, with the remainder expected to be arrested today. Defendants face a range of felony and misdemeanor charges, including failure to file state and city tax returns.

The city said it would suspend workers charged in the scandal.