Trump’s Odds of Getting Away With Tax Fraud Just Took a Nosedive | Vanity Fair

Trump’s Odds of Getting Away With Tax Fraud Just Took a Nosedive | Vanity Fair

Legal Affairs Trump’s Odds of Getting Away With Tax Fraud Just Took a Nosedive The Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal probe is closing in.
By Bess Levi n
March 10, 2021 Facebook
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Donald Trump boards Air Force One on December 18. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images Facebook
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Since leaving office in January, Donald Trump has apparently laid out a number of goals for himself. One of them is to scam as much money as possible out of his supporters. Another is to maintain relevance despite his social media banishment. Yet another, and probably the most important of the bunch, is to avoid prosecution for his cornucopia of alleged crimes. And on that last front, things aren’t looking great for the ex-president.
Weeks after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s bid to keep his tax returns out of the hands of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office— a turn of events he reacted to like a man who knows prison is in his future —the D.A. has expanded its criminal investigation of potential insurance, bank, and tax fraud outside of New York City. On Monday, CNN reported that Cy Vance ’s office has subpoenaed documents from Fortress Investment Management, which loaned the Trump Organization $130 million to build his Chicago tower and then, seven years later, forgave a cool $102 million of that debt. While Trump ended up getting a sweet deal not having to repay a huge chunk of money, investigators are reportedly interested to know if he paid taxes on the forgiven amount, as required by the IRS. Per CNN :
Investigators’ interest in how Trump and his company treated the Chicago loan is an expansion of an inquiry that encompasses multiple aspects of the Trump business. Prosecutors are examining whether the company misled lenders or insurance brokers about valuations for certain properties.
New York Attorney General Letitia James first raised questions about Trump’s handling of the Fortress loan last fall when her office disclosed in a court filing that it was investigating whether Trump and the Trump Organization recorded the forgiven amount as income and paid taxes or whether there was some explanation as to why that wouldn’t be required. The attorney general’s office said at the time that information about the transactions was “significant” to its civil investigation.
In addition to the Chicago tower, Vance’s office has also taken an interest in Seven Springs, a Westchester County estate owned by Trump that he unsuccessfully attempted to develop into a luxury subdivision in the late ’90s. While local tax assessments show the market value of the property as roughly $19 million, Trump has valued it at up to $291 million. Which is…curious! Per The Wall Street Journal :
Inflating assets to help secure loans or other financial benefits can be a state criminal offense, legal experts said…. Prosecutors in recent weeks have sent subpoenas to land-use lawyer Charles Martabano and engineer Ralph Mastromonaco, both of whom were involved in planning the Trump Organization’s proposal for Seven Springs, the people said. Mr. Mastromonaco confirmed he had received a subpoena and said he had given the district attorney’s office materials including communications with others involved in the project.
The district attorney’s office also requested recordings of planning-board meetings in Bedford, N.Y., one of three towns on which the Seven Springs estate sits, people familiar with the matter said. Messrs. Mastromonaco and Martabano appeared before the board with Mr. Trump’s son, Eric Trump, in 2012 and 2013, meeting minutes show.
Advertisement According to one of the New York Times ’ bombshell reports re: Trump’s taxes published last year, in 2014, Trump classified Seven Springs as an investment property and has subsequently been able to write off $2.2 million in property taxes as a “business expense.” The problem? Eric Trump has publicly stated that the estate is a family retreat, telling Forbes in 2014 that “this is really our compound,” recalling the summers and weekends he spent fishing and riding ATVs around the property with Donald Trump Jr. So that’s probably something else Vance’s office is looking into.
The Trump Organization did not respond to CNN or the Journal ‘s requests for comment. Last month, the Manhattan D.A.’s office hired Mark Pomerantz, who successfully put away John Gotti and others involved in organized crime, to work on the Trump case. Among other things, Pomerantz has reportedly been working on getting Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime CFO who knows where all the bodies are buried, to flip.
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