Trump faces new criminal investigation into New York golf club

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Jeenah Moon Reuters

Prosecutors in suburban Westchester County, N.Y., have subpoenaed tax records related to one of former president Donald Trump’s golf clubs.

The district attorney in suburban Westchester County, N.Y., has subpoenaed property-tax records related to one of former president Donald Trump’s golf clubs, signaling a previously unknown criminal inquiry into the Trump Organization.

The town of Ossining, N.Y., which sets property tax rates for the course, received a subpoena from Westchester District Attorney Miriam “Mimi” Rocah (D) several weeks ago, according to an Ossining official. The town “has been fully cooperative,” said the official, who declined to be named because the subpoena was not public.

A spokeswoman for Rocah declined to comment Wednesday. The Westchester inquiry was first reported by the New York Times.

The Trump Organization had challenged the property valuation for its Westchester club for every year since 2015. That process — used by many real estate companies — typically requires a company to submit data about its property’s financial performance, as evidence that it is worth less than the initial assessment.

On Aug. 12, the Trump Organization said, the challenge was settled with an agreement to reduce the club’s tax valuations by about 30 percent. The valuation for 2020, for instance, was reduced from $13.7 million to $9.7 million — a change that could provide Trump with significant tax savings.

Trump Organization spokeswoman Kimberly Benza said that the Ossining town government and a county judge had signed off on the settlement.

“Accordingly, the suggestion that anything was inappropriate is completely false and incredibly irresponsible,” Benza said in a written statement. She noted that Rocah, a former federal prosecutor elected in 2020, had repeatedly criticized Trump on Twitter before she took office.

The Ossining town official said the subpoena had been sent before the August agreement was finalized.

Trump’s business is already facing a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance II (D), who earlier this year indicted Trump’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg on charges of felony tax fraud for allegedly concealing parts of Trump executives’ pay from tax authorities. Vance also indicted two of Trump’s corporate entities. Weisselberg and the companies have pleaded not guilty.

Vance’s investigation is still open, but no new charges have been brought since July.

Separately, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is also conducting a civil investigation of the Trump Organization’s finances. James has not accused Trump or anyone else of wrongdoing.

Both Vance and James have shown interest in Trump’s past appeals of tax valuations at various properties.

Former Trump attorney and personal fixer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that, during these appeals, Trump sometimes gave tax authorities an inaccurate picture. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Cohen testified in 2019.

James had previously inquired about Trump’s golf club in Westchester. Her office subpoenaed documents from Ossining in May 2019, according to the town.

Neither James nor Vance has accused Trump of wrongdoing in relation to any property-tax appeals.

Trump bought his Westchester golf club, located about 20 miles north of New York City, in 1996. In his financial disclosures as president, he said the club’s revenue had stayed relatively steady during his first three years in office, at about $7.2 million — then fell about 13 percent in 2020 during the covid pandemic.

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