Federal authorities already have information tying Donald Trump and his adult children Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka to a major financial crime which helped build the Trump SoHo tower in lower Manhattan with the Bayrock Company.
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Former Bayrock Company owner Felix Sater is a Soviet-born convicted financial felon, whose criminal history lies at the heart of the potentially explosive criminal liability hanging over the Trump Organization’s head and heirs.
Newly unsealed court records from the former Trump senior advisor Felix Sater’s illegally hidden prosecution reveal details of his 1998 plea deal and 2004 pre-sentencing report, providing a factual basis for which federal authorities could bring bank fraud and racketeering criminal charges against him and the Trump family.
Sater’s Bayrock Company licensed the Trump name to build Trump SoHo, as well as failed projects in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Phoenix, Arizona.
The Trump family’s role in Sater’s fraud racket involved them knowingly concealing the Russian mob-connected businessman’s financial felony past from banks to borrow $550 million and obtain $200 million of investor equity to build the Trump SoHo tower.
In 2012, Manhattan’s DA investigated the Trump family’s statements in connection with selling the Trump SoHo but declined to prosecute under murky circumstances.
The unsealed records along with Sater’s recent media remarks also indicate that Donald Trump committed perjury to a Florida court by covering up the extent of his involvement with his former “senior advisor” during a 2013 video deposition.
A federal judge in the New York-based 2nd Circuit Appeals Court just redacted and unsealed new information about Sater’s agreement with federal prosecutors to become a cooperating witness for the FBI against the mafia, as I exclusively reported in February 2018.
Lawyer Robert S. Wolf responded to that February 10th story by sending a threatening email to this author.
He is the counsel of record for Felix Sater in the Bayrock lawsuits, which court records show is a role he has held for at least the past 24 years. Wolf told me: (complete email chain below, with reply)
“The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Pamela Chen’s earlier decision,” and “continued to keep everything sealed that the government and Mr. Sater requested to remain sealed including his Pre-Sentence Report.”
However, a careful examination of the unsealed records shows that the judge’s redactions actually serve to confirm Donald Trump’s involvement with Sater in a criminal racket.
When asked for further comment for this story, Robert Wolf told me from his cellphone ten days later, “I have nothing further to tell you based on your response,” and reached by phone twice more while his client was busy on a media blitz, he asked to be called back or muttered that he was busy, declining further comment.
Judge Chen’s vain attempt to partially redact details of Felix Sater’s pre-sentencing report and Wolf’s statement serve, ironically, to confirm the authenticity of the information from Sater’s 2004 pre-sentencing report that was included in a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court in 2012.
The records and Sater’s recent media remarks also indicate that Donald Trump committed perjury to a Florida court by covering up the extent of his involvement with his former “senior advisor” during a 2013 video deposition.
Leaked emails emerged documenting a 2008 meeting between the entire Trump family (Don, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric) and Bayrock, where they discussed the plea deal and ultimately hid Felix Sater’s continued ownership in Trump SoHo before refinancing in 2010. Lenders foreclosed on the remaining partners in 2014.
A New York state or federal prosecutor could use the confirmed facts above and the leaked emails to build a case for RICO bank fraud by concealment against the Trump family, Sater and his colleagues in the Bayrock Company.
The statute of limitations for federal RICO bank fraud charges is 10 years, and Bayrock refinanced its last mortgage in 2010.
The above image may also partially explain why Felix Sater suddenly settled the long-running civil racketeering and fraud lawsuit just last month, since it makes clear that he was skimming funds from Bayrock, and even the federal government knew about it.
For example, in just one of the settled complaint’s 2007 allegations alone (page 14), Sater and his cohort at Bayrock were alleged to have kept a $50 million investment just to pad their own bank accounts.
President Trump’s nearly 20-year relationship with this Russian mob-connected business associate Felix Sater ultimately blossomed into a business partnership with family and the Bayrock company to build the Trump SoHo Hotel in lower Manhattan, as seen on NBC’s “The Apprentice.”
Jody Kriss, a Bayrock whistleblower, filed a civil racketeering suit against Sater and Bayrock for (among other things) hiding the Russian-American’s 1998 felony plea deal, which is a material fact that must be disclosed to lenders once known.
Just because a criminal case is sealed like Sater’s, and sentencing is delayed or incomplete, a cooperating witness isn’t accorded a free pass under the law to keep breaking new laws or engage in new crimes beyond that which he might have witnessed. Those acts are actually grounds for canceling a cooperation agreement.
But Felix Sater did so anyhow, and Donald Trump and his family found out and hid his felony financial crimes conviction anyhow while maintaining an 18% interest in the Bayrock project that became the Trump SoHo condominium hotel.
Later in 2013, President Trump gave a sworn statement to attorney Jared Beck of Beck & Lee during Florida court deposition from Trump Tower, saying that he didn’t speak often with, and he “would not recognize” the Russian-American businessman with mob ties if they were in the same room.
The Trump Organization retained a multimillion-dollar management deal at Trump SoHo — even though only 15.8% of the hotel-condo units were sold by 2010 and the other partners went belly up — until late last year when they were bought out by new owners, who very publicly removed the Trump name from the lower Manhattan high-rise. (video here)
Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. was investigating the Trump SoHo for violations of New York’s “blue sky” law — the Martin Act — until a 2012 meeting with Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz strangely led to the case being dropped.
The Martin Act is a state law that regulates securities, condominiums and co-op transactions, making it a prosecutable civil or criminal offense for a developer to make materially false statements.
One of the reasons why Trump SoHo’s units are (still) so deeply unpopular with buyers, is that the family negotiated onerous occupancy restrictions to no more than 120 days a year in order to obtain the hotel’s permit without violating residency requirements in one of Manhattan’s few industrially zoned districts. The building’s neighbors were not happy about the compromise.
That’s probably why two of the Trump children — Don Jr. and Ivanka — decided to blatantly lie about the percentage of SoHo units sold.
The family held a press conference for international reporters in Trump Tower in June 2008 — just over 90 days after the Trump Panama Hotel’s financiers at Bear Stearns went bankrupt — where Ivanka lied, claiming that Trump SoHo was nearly 60 percent sold.
Later, Don Jr. told The Real Deal the following spring that 55% of the units were sold.
The percentage of units sold is materially important information for a buyer since a condo developer in New York must sell at least 15% of the units to begin closings.
As of late last year, only 33% of the Trump SoHo’s 391 units have sold to end buyers.
And the now-former Trump SoHo’s neighbors are still upset, even though the building has paid nearly $500,000 in occupancy related fines.
Donald Trump personally obtained millions of dollars in management fees and naming rights from the failed Trump SoHo project for his family real estate company.
The Trump Organization obtained those millions of dollars by staying loyal to a twice-convicted financial felon, lying about sales information to attract buyers, and defrauding lenders for unspeakably large sums of money, which harmed everyone else who invested into the Trump SoHo property.
Virtually everyone else lost their shirt in Trump SoHo.
Except Felix Sater.
And the Trump Organization.
But Sater and the Trump family could be charged with bank fraud by concealment by state or local prosecutors in connection with the Trump SoHo loans sometime before the November 2020.
Read Part 2 of this story here.
Felix Sater’s legal counsel Robert S. Wolf sent this threatening email in the middle of President’s Day weekend, the evening of Saturday, February 17th, 2018:
The author’s response: