Book Alleges Trump Did Business With Mob

Posted: January 07, 1992

ATLANTIC CITY — An unauthorized biography asserts that throughout his adult life, Donald Trump has done business with major organized-crime figures and performed favors for their associates.

If the charges are true, it would challenge the integrity of casino regulation in New Jersey.

Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, by Wayne Barrett, asserts that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has failed to examine how Trump's life ''intertwines with the underworld." It also alleges that the Casino Control Commission has denied licenses to others for conduct far less serious than what the book alleges Trump has done.

Key among these assertions is that in 1983, after Trump had obtained a casino license, he met with Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno, head of the Genovese crime family, at the Manhattan townhouse of Roy Cohn, a lawyer who represented both men. The book cites an unnamed eyewitness as its source.

Other casino executives have had their licenses revoked or were denied a license just for being photographed in the company of major organized-crime figures, including Salerno.

At the time of the purported meeting, Trump was using a concrete company called S&A to build his Trump Plaza condos in Manhattan, according to federal court records cited in the book. S&A was controlled by Salerno and Paul Castellano, then head of New York's Gambino crime family, according to those same records.

The book alleges numerous other dealings that Trump had with officials of mob-controlled concrete firms and with mob-influenced unions, and often cites government documents and interviews with named individuals.

Trump aide Norma Foederer said yesterday that Trump had not read the book.

Another spokesman, Steve Mangione, issued a statement from Trump saying that Barrett is "a second-rate writer who has had numerous literary failures, who has been writing negative stories about me for the past 15 years. The book is another example of Mr. Barrett's personal prejudice and animosity towards me. The book is boring, non-factual and highly inaccurate."

Barrett, 46, is the politics reporter for the Village Voice, where for the last 14 years he has focused on allegations of corruption, particularly ties between leading New York politicians and mobsters. He co-authored City for Sale, a 1988 account of corruption in the administration of former New York Mayor Ed Koch.

Any one of at least 11 incidents cited in the book, if true, could justify revocation of Trump's casino licenses based on decisions that the Casino Control Commission made in other cases.

Barrett said the book was extensively reviewed by lawyers for his publisher, HarperCollins. It began appearing Sunday in bookstores.

"I believe," Barrett said in an interview, "that if the Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Casino Control Commission were to conduct their own investigations they would determine that Donald Trump does not meet the character and integrity standards of the Casino Control Act."

The book's most serious allegation that could affect Trump's casino licenses is that he failed to reveal to regulators that he was the target of a 1979 bribery investigation and was questioned in a 1981 racketeering investigation. Neither federal probe led to any criminal charges against Trump.

Tom Auriemma, the deputy attorney general for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement assigned to Trump's casinos, said yesterday that he had not read the book but planned to read it thoroughly.

The Casino Control Commission has treated failure to disclose less significant matters as grounds for refusing to issue or renew a license. Under

commission Chairman Steven P. Perskie, individuals have lost licenses for failing to list minor, decades-old arrests or bad debts on their Personal History Disclosure forms.

Barrett said that he had interviewed all five commissioners who voted on Trump's license application and that none knew of the two alleged investigations involving him.

The book also asserts that Trump:

* Became virtually a son to Roy Cohn, whom Barrett calls Trump's "bridge to the mob." The book points out that in 1985, Hilton Hotels Corp. was denied a New Jersey casino license in part because of Hilton's comparatively minor dealings with Sidney Korshak, a lawyer with reputed mob ties. Yet the gaming division never wrote a report that raised "the possibility that Cohn's mob liaisons . . . might have been used to facilitate Trump construction projects."

* Sought labor peace on the construction of Trump Tower by providing a condo to a female friend of John Cody, boss of the concrete workers' union doing work on the tower and an alleged Gambino crime-family associate. After Cody was imprisoned and lost power over the project, Trump sued the woman for nonpayment of rent and fees.

* Quickly settled the suit against Cody's female friend, paying her $500,000 when she filed court papers accusing Trump of taking kickbacks from an architect working on her apartment.

* Maintained a decade-long relationship with Kenny Shapiro, whom the book characterizes as an investment banker for former Philadelphia mob boss Nicky Scarfo.

* Paid nearly double the market price for a piece of Atlantic City property owned by Salvatore Testa, an alleged capo in the Scarfo crime family.

* Arranged in 1982 to funnel campaign contributions to Mike Mathews, then a candidate for Atlantic City mayor. State law bars casino owners from making political contributions. The contributions were allegedly channeled through Shapiro and Dan Sullivan, a labor consultant once employed by Trump and later barred from the casino industry for mob ties.

* Invited to his 1990 birthday party Manny Ciminello, a big Trump-casino gambler who was a partner with Salerno and Castellano in a concrete company.

* Made false and misleading statements on applications for some of the $1.9 billion in bank loans on which he defaulted; all the loans were subject to approval by casino regulators.

* Wrote a 1986 letter seeking lenient sentencing treatment for Joseph Weichselbaum, a convicted marijuana and cocaine trafficker whose firms supplied Trump casinos with helicopters even after Weichselbaum's arrest and conviction.

* Felt so close to Weichselbaum that Trump proposed that his mistress, Marla Maples, hide out from the press in Weichselbaum's Trump Tower condo.

* Attended the settlement of a Trump Tower condo purchased by alleged Lucchese crime family associate Robert Hopkins. Hopkins ran the biggest illegal numbers operation in New York out of his Trump Tower condo, according to court records cited in the book.

Executives at competing casinos, in not-for-attribution interviews, have long complained that Trump gets preferential treatment from casino regulators.

Last summer, two casino commissioners, who have since resigned, accused the enforcement division of favoritism to Trump. The division has denied any bias toward Trump.

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