The New York Times has a new story about how, in 2011, Donald Trump settled a lawsuit alleging that his company lied to individuals buying property at the Trump Soho luxury building in New York City. By Trump's standards the specific fraud alleged is actually pretty tame, but the sections of the Times story about Felix Sater, who did development work with Trump and was an employee of the company that partnered with him on the Trump Soho, caught my eye.
In addition to his achievements in real estate, Sater:
- Was convicted of first degree assault, a felony, and spent time in prison for stabbing a man in the face with a broken glass in 1991. (Accounts say he was sentenced to more than a year, but I wasn't able to find out how long he actually served.)
- Was convicted in 1998 of racketeering in a huge boiler-room securities fraud case—the AP describes it as "a $40 million stock fraud scheme involving the prominent Genovese and Bonanno crime families." At least 19 individuals were convicted of crimes in the case.
The Trump Soho construction process began in the early aughts. In 2007, Sater's criminal history was exposed in a New York Times piece, and he left the project. Three years after that, though, he showed up working for the Trump Organization as a "senior advisor"—ABC has a copy of his business card. (Trump's lawyer has said that Sater was an informal deal broker, not an official employee of the Trump Organization, and that the arrangement lasted for six months.)
Sater is an instant inductee into the Sleazeball Donald Trump Associate Hall of Fame. Some other members of that group:
- Joseph Weichselbaum, who managed Trump casino helicopter services in the '80s and was already a two-time felon when Trump personally rented an apartment to him and wrote a letter to a judge on his behalf when Weichselbaum was indicted in 1985 for drug trafficking. (He pleaded guilty.)
- Robert LiButti, a casino high-roller who reportedly often traveled to and from Atlantic City with Trump in Trump's personal helicopter—and who was convicted of tax fraud in 1994 and banned from New Jersey casinos because of his alleged associations with John Gotti. Trump's casino was fined $200,000 for accommodating LiButti, who was apparently an outspoken racist, by telling black employees not to go near him.
And most prominently:
- Corey Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, who has been charged with battery for allegedly grabbing a female reporter's arm so hard he left bruises on it and who reportedly fell out of favor at his previous job because he loudly called a co-worker a "cunt" to her face outside a board meeting.
As far as condoning/encouraging abusive and criminal behavior goes, it seems like a Donald Trump presidency would make Richard Nixon look like the pope.