However, once their attorney — a top political donor — entered the picture, the case against the siblings was mysteriously dropped.
While this wouldn’t be the first time a Trump used his or her influence with political leaders to get ahead, it does prove that the apples don’t fall far from the tree.
Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development, was unveiled by Donald Trump Sr. in June 2006 as a project meant to showcase his two elder kids’ business savvy and make them “full players in the Trump empire,” as ProPublica reports.
Alas, the project didn’t turn out well.
The Trump kids got tangled up in their own case of fraud along with their partners, one of whom was Felix Sater. Sater is a Soviet-born businessman who was convicted of assault in 1993 and who, by 1998, had pleaded guilty to a racketeering count after being involved in a $40 million securities fraud scheme.
According to the evidence gathered by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the duo had exchanged emails showing they were aware they had inflated figures to pretend Trump SoHo condos were selling better than they were in an effort to lure buyers.
There was “no doubt” the Trumps “approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales,” according to a source who spoke to ProPublica. So in no time, their scheme was unveiled by Manhattan officials.
In 2012, as the Trump siblings got closer to being indicted, Trump Jr.’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, donated $25,000 to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., making him one of Vance's largest donors. As Vance was re-elected, Kasowitz allegedly went straight to him, personally asking Vance to get the case dropped.
In a matter of months, charges against the Trumps had been dropped.
Vance claimed that just before Kasowitz met with him, he returned the money that had been donated to him previously so that Trump Jr.’s attorney wouldn’t have any influence in the case.
But less than six months after the case was dropped, Kasowitz once again donated heavily to Vance’s campaign. This time around, Kasowitz went further, helping Vance to raise even more from other donors.
Members of the Trump family aren't strangers to questionable business dealings. President Donald Trump’s father’s company, Trump Management, was sued by the U.S. Justice Department for discriminating against black people. But it was Trump himself — before becoming president — who used government influence and shady policies to take advantage of less-fortunate property owners.
Trump has, over the decades, lobbied and rallied local authorities to allow him to use eminent domain laws to expel legal property owners of their land and buildings so he could develop them. While he lost most of these battles in court, the fact that he was willing to go to these extremes to get what he wanted shows that he’s unconcerned about the morality and decency of his business practices.
As we can see through this ProPublica investigation, this corrupt trait was passed along to his children, too.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters\Win McNamee\Pool