Friday, September 02, 2016

Reminder: Trump Has Been Very Close With The Mafia For His Entire Career


Roy Cohn and Signore Trumpanzee, two of New York's most notorious villains of the 20th Century

Want to sign up to be a Trumpanzee volunteer, even just for phone-banking? The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that "to sign up on Trump's website, potential volunteers must agree to a 2,271-word non-disclosure agreement in which they also promise they won't compete against or say anything bad about Trump, his company, his family members [including Barron] or products-- now and forever." The bizarre requirement means that even online volunteers must sign the form, even if they'll never meet a Trumpanzee family member, attend a Trumpanzee rally, meet a Trumpanzee campaign staffer in person or step inside a Trumpanzee campaign office. Those years and decades with the slimiest and most dishonest lawyer in contemporary American history, Roy Cohn, have certainly rubbed off on Señor Trumpanzee. And in more ways than one.

You may have missed Mark Cuban's twitter storm (above) about the Trumpanzee tax returns that have never been released and, likely, never will be. Cuban pointed to a 2013 deposition in which Trumpanzee said he establishes single-use subchapter S corporations to develop projects rather than use the Trump Organization, basically a branding operation for those projects. Using an S-corporation means that, in Cuban's words, "the entire financial performance of his company becomes part of his tax return." Pass through income, probably the biggest tax loophole Trumpanzee uses to avoid paying taxes, would all be laid out nice and clearly for anyone to see and understand if he ever released his returns. Which, according to Cuban, he never will. Is Trump a crook? Short answer: absolutely, but a crook with fancy and expensive lawyers who can make sure that unlike Al Capone, the government's not going to throw his ass in prison for tax evasion, even if his tax evasion makes Capone look like an upstanding citizen and patriot.

And, speaking of Capone-- and Roy Cohn-- yesterday's Wall Street Journal published the 10,000th look at Trump's too-close-for-comfort decades-long relationship with the Mob. The Journal was very gentle in how it described Signore Trumpanzee's ties with the Mafia. Through his shady businesses in Atlantic City and NYC Signore Trumpanzee, they wrote "sometimes dealt with people who had ties to organized crime." Awkward:

The people the Journal fretted over Signore Trumpanzee dealing with included "a man described by law enforcement as an agent of the Philadelphia mob; a gambler convicted of tax fraud and barred from New York racetracks; a union leader found guilty of racketeering; and a real-estate developer convicted in a stock scheme that involved several Mafiosi," not to mention Mafia lawyer-- and Trump lawyer-- Roy Cohn. A clear hint about how steeped in Mafia criminality Trump was, he insisted in an interview that he is "the cleanest guy there is." They apologized for Signore by mansplaining that "Like many in the construction, real estate and gambling worlds three or four decades ago, especially those who built in Atlantic City and New York, Mr. Trump[anzee] sometimes had to choose whether or not to deal with figures who had sketchy backgrounds. People in the industry say those moments were unavoidable in the days when unions representing construction workers and supply deliverers were controlled by organized crime, which also had a presence in the casino world. That didn’t mean the developers sought out those relationships-- much less that they themselves were gangsters." God forbid! "Trump 'wasn’t going to build Trump Tower without having those connections. Every builder in New York had to do that at that time,' said Michael Cody, the son of a mob-linked union leader Mr. Trump and other builders dealt with."

Because I was the president of a record company people sometimes ask me if I was involved with any of the Mafia figures who completely controlled the radio industry that record companies were dependent on. No matter how good a Madonna or Depeche Mode song was, it wasn't going to reach it's chart potential without payoffs. I never met or even talked to a Mafia character, not while I had my own label and not while I ran one of Warner Bros. We regularly hired independent promoters ("indies") to get our records on the air. And paid them a lot. Rumors indicated which indie dealt with which crime family that controlled which station or group of stations. I never spent any time thinking about it and no one ever talked to me about it. Other record label president took a very different approach and totally immersed themselves in the process. Real estate developers had a similar situation.
Some developers avoided working directly with unsavory figures by operating through a general contractor. Mr. Trump said he preferred to negotiate business matters personally, because he made more money that way.

Referring to a concrete contracting firm that law enforcement said was affiliated with one of New York’s Mafia families, Mr. Trump said: “That was a major contractor. You hear stories that they may have been [mob-controlled].

“In the meantime, I was a builder. I was never going to run for office.… I’d go by the lowest bid and I’d go by their track record, but I didn’t do a personal history of who they are.”

Many of the associations the Journal explored have been previously reported piecemeal. In the early 1990s, Mr. Trump’s license to operate casinos in Atlantic City was re-examined after a book by reporter Wayne Barrett alleged a number of organized-crime connections. New Jersey officials determined Mr. Trump remained eligible.

In its own examination, the Journal reviewed thousands of pages of legal and corporate documents and interviewed dozens of Mr. Trump’s business associates.

The gambling business now is largely corporate, but at the time when Atlantic City was newly opened to casinos and a family friend suggested Mr. Trump build there, many banks shunned the industry.

“Any project in the gaming arena in general is a difficult project to finance, because of the natural prohibition that a lot of institutions have,” Mr. Trump told New Jersey casino regulators in 1982.

Some of the people he dealt with in Atlantic City illustrate why the FBI agent counseled caution.

Kenneth Shapiro owned part of a site where Mr. Trump wanted to build his first casino. Mr. Shapiro was a Philadelphia scrap-metal dealer and property investor, described by law enforcement as an “agent” of Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo.

A co-owner of the site was Daniel Sullivan, a gregarious six-foot-five Teamster and labor consultant with a criminal record that included a weapons violation. “He knew a lot of organized-crime figures and they knew him,” said Walter Stowe, a former FBI agent.

Mr. Sullivan also was a tipster to the FBI. Gangsters “knew he was an informant. I don’t know why nobody ever tried to kill him,” Mr. Stowe said.

Mr. Trump negotiated with Messrs. Shapiro and Sullivan, now both dead, to lease their property. “They are not bad people from what I see,” Mr. Trump said at a regulatory hearing in 1982. His project nonetheless faced obstacles because of their involvement.

Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Trump and another partner had a deal to acquire an interest in a drywall company. New Jersey casino regulators told Mr. Trump any dealings with Mr. Sullivan beyond the property lease could delay casino licensing. He backed out of the drywall deal.

When the hotel-casino was near completion, the regulators said Messrs. Shapiro and Sullivan might need casino licenses too, as site owners, but could have trouble getting them. Eventually, Mr. Trump bought the two out.

Mr. Trump also used Mr. Sullivan as an adviser on New York labor issues. These included a 1980 dispute over the use of undocumented Polish workers to demolish the Bonwit Teller store on Fifth Avenue to make way for Trump Tower, Mr. Sullivan said in lawsuit testimony. Mr. Trump, in testimony of his own, said he didn’t know there were undocumented workers at the site.

Mr. Trump told the Journal he knew Mr. Sullivan and considered him “OK” because he traveled with FBI agents. He said he didn’t know of any underworld connection Mr. Shapiro might have had.

Mr. Shapiro was a conduit the Scarfo crime family used to buy influence with Atlantic City’s then-mayor, Michael J. Matthews, according to a 1984 indictment of the mayor. The late Mr. Matthews pleaded guilty to extortion. Mr. Scarfo, now in prison, didn’t agree to an interview.

Mr. Trump, as a casino owner, couldn’t legally contribute to the local politicians who controlled such matters as zoning and signs. Mr. Shapiro told a federal grand jury he secretly gave thousands of dollars to the mayor on Mr. Trump’s behalf, said people familiar with his account.

“Donald was always trying to maneuver politically to get things done,” said Mr. Shapiro’s brother Barry Shapiro.

Kenneth Shapiro said he never was reimbursed for the money given the mayor, according to his brother and two other people. “Donald just reneged; that’s his automatic thing,” Barry Shapiro said.

Asked about this, Mr. Trump said he didn’t make contributions to the Atlantic City mayor. “I’m not interested in giving cash, OK?...The last thing I’m doing is now handing cash.”

As for Mr. Shapiro, “I never remember him asking me for money. He was always straight with me...I didn’t know Shapiro well other than to know that we did a pretty small little land transaction down in Atlantic City, which was fine.”

A major profit source at one Trump casino was a racehorse trader named Robert LiButti. His gambling losses earned Trump Plaza $11 million between 1986 and 1989, state documents show.

Mr. LiButti had been convicted of tax fraud related to horse sales in 1977 and was barred from attending races in New York for trying to conceal his horse ownership. A Trump employee told New Jersey regulators that Mr. LiButti repeatedly invoked the name of gangster John Gotti and called him “my boss,” according to a 1991 state investigative report.

“LiButti was a high-roller in Atlantic City,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “I found him to be a nice guy. But I had nothing to do with him.”

Jack O’Donnell, who ran Trump Plaza in the late 1980s, said, “It isn’t like [Mr. Trump] saw LiButti once or twice-- he spent time with him, saw him multiple times,” and even attended a birthday party for Mr. LiButti’s daughter.

The daughter declined to be interviewed but confirmed to Yahoo News that Mr. Trump attended a birthday party for her.

It was illegal in New Jersey for casinos to keep high-rollers happy by giving them cash gifts. Regulators, in a ruling that didn’t cite Mr. Trump personally, fined Trump Plaza for funneling Mr. LiButti $1.65 million via gifts of expensive cars quickly converted into cash.

Mr. Trump agreed in 1988 to buy a horse from Mr. LiButti for $250,000, Mr. O’Donnell said in a book he wrote after quitting Trump Plaza. The horse, named D.J. Trump, had cost the LiButti family just $90,000 a year earlier, according to Blood Horse magazine. Mr. O’Donnell said Mr. Trump aborted the deal after the horse had a health problem.

Mr. Trump didn’t respond to questions about the horse and the birthday party.

...A lawyer Mr. Trump relied on and socialized with in his early years was the hard-driving attorney Roy Cohn. Among Mr. Cohn’s clients were several gangsters, including Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, co-owner of a concrete company important to New York builders. Former Trump Organization executive Barbara Res said that during heated negotiations with contractors, Mr. Trump would pull out a photo of Mr. Cohn and say, “I’m not afraid to sue you and this is who my lawyer is.”

Mr. Trump called that “totally false.” He said people in the construction industry “don’t get scared by holding up a picture.”

Mr. Trump was a character witness for Mr. Cohn in proceedings that led to the lawyer’s disbarment shortly before his death in 1986.

Mr. Cohn had many clients who, like Mr. Trump, weren’t mob-affiliated, such as the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. “Roy was a great lawyer if he wanted to be,” Mr. Trump said in an interview.

Messrs. Cohn and Trump had a common associate in Teamsters official John A. Cody. Mr. Cody had a lengthy arrest record and was close to mob bosses Carlo Gambino and Paul Castellano, according to a Justice Department memo from 1982, when Mr. Cody was convicted of racketeering.

Mr. Cody led a powerful union local that represented drivers who delivered cement to New York construction sites.

When he called a strike, Mr. Trump still received cement for Trump Tower, said Mr. Cody’s son, Michael.

“My father wasn’t that generous, unless there was a reason,” Michael Cody said.

...In the 2000s, Mr. Trump dealt with another figure who had gangland ties. It happened when a small real-estate firm called Bayrock Group rented space in Trump Tower, two floors below Mr. Trump’s offices, and negotiated deals with Mr. Trump to put his name on buildings and give him equity in them. One person Mr. Trump worked with at Bayrock was Felix Sater.

In the early 1990s, well before Mr. Trump knew him, the Russian-born Mr. Sater was a stockbroker but lost his license and went to prison after he jabbed a margarita glass into a man’s face in a bar fight.

Later in the 1990s, Mr. Sater was involved in a Mafia-linked scheme to pump up marginal stocks, dump them on unsuspecting investors and stash the profits abroad. The scheme relied on gangsters from three mob families for protection, said a Justice Department news release. It quoted the New York police commissioner at the time as saying the operation could have been called “Goodfellas Meet the Boiler Room.”

Mr. Sater pleaded guilty to racketeering, cooperated with prosecutors and had his conviction sealed. It was then, around 2000, that he joined Bayrock and sometimes dealt with Mr. Trump on real estate.

Bayrock’s projects included the Trump SoHo condos in New York and Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Its marketing in Fort Lauderdale included a letter in which Mr. Trump said, “This magnificent oceanfront resort offers the finest and most luxurious experience I have ever created.”

The New York Times described Mr. Sater’s criminal history in an article in 2007. Mr. Trump, giving a court deposition days later, said he was unaware of it until then.

Two federal press releases in 2000 had referred to Mr. Sater’s past, one from the National Association of Securities Dealers and one from the Justice Department. The Justice Department one announced the indictment of 19 people in the pump-and-dump stock scheme Mr. Sater was part of, including several it identified as members of La Cosa Nostra.

The Justice Department release said a Genovese crime-family soldier, Ernest “Butch” Montevecchi, had protected Mr. Sater from an extortion effort.

Mr. Montevecchi declined to comment.

In a 2009 court proceeding, Mr. Sater described the Bayrock real-estate business, which is no longer active, as one he “built with my own two hands” and where he was probably the No. 2 person. In an interview, Mr. Sater said he had atoned for his crimes by cooperating with the government in the pump-and-dump case and on national-security matters. He declined to answer questions about Mr. Trump.
Signore Trumpanzee told the Journal that when you deal with the Mafia, "in the end, you lose. You can solve some problems short term, but long term, you’ve got a disaster." Let's hope that disaster is Trumpanzee's and not America's.

UPDATE: Not That Trump Is The Only Corrupt Candidate With Mafia Ties...

Yesterday the Smoking Gun reported that the most corrupt of the Democrats' Senate candidates, Patrick Murphy, whose construction business has often been in partnership with Trump, has also been in bed with the Mob. Although Murphy gets massive campaign contributions from Wall Street, from his father and from a wealthy Saudi family, according to the Smoking Gun Murphy took maxed-out "campaign contributions from a pair of Florida businessmen identified by the FBI as members of the Colombo organized crime family"-- $5,400 apiece from John Staluppi and John Rosatti during the current cycle. Aside from being Mafiosi, both are registered Republicans.
Rosatti, 72, and Staluppi, 69, are each extremely wealthy due to their ownership of numerous car dealerships in Florida and New York. Both men are Brooklyn natives, convicted felons, superyacht owners, and, according to FBI records, prized Mafia “earners.”

...Rosatti’s and Staluppi’s involvement with the Colombo gang is detailed in FBI debriefing reports with an assortment of mob turncoats, including former ranking members of the crime group.

During the deadly early-90s fight for control of the Colombo family, Rosatti and Staluppi initially sided (and financed) insurgent forces seeking to oust imprisoned boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico. But the pair subsequently switched allegiances mid-war after paying a visit to jailed Colombo captain Dominick “Donny Shacks” Montemarano, a staunch Persico supporter. The duo’s charge of heart is detailed in an FBI report of a debriefing of Salvatore Miciotta, a crime family captain.

The Rosatti-Staluppi flip was later the subject of a bugged conversation between Persico allies. “We got those two guys with us, Staluppi and Rosatti. They’re with us now, right?” one hoodlum asked. “Yeah,” a second wiseguy replied.

...At the time of Scarpa’s 1988 reports, Staluppi was working with Donald Trump on the production of a series of Cadillac stretch limousines. The Trump Golden Series and Trump Executive Series vehicles were the first time the developer had licensed his name for a product.

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At 5:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the government of the USofA, itself, has moved inexorably toward the reality of being a Mega Mafia ever since, at least, the moment it hired Lucky Luciano to organize Sicilian resistance to remnant Nazi's as "the Allies" entered Europe from the south in WWII.

John Puma


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