Robert Mueller Zeroing In On Trump SoHo For Possible Racketeering

After all mob boss Al Capone was guilty of, he was ultimately convicted of tax evasion.

That was in 1931.

There is a distinction, of course. Al Capone was not president of the United States.

Here we are in 2017 with another mob boss on the hot seat for a plethora of crimes. The one(s) he might be eventually found guilty of may not necessarily be the most obvious, though.

Since spring, independent council Robert Mueller has been doggedly pursuing the investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the campaign of President Donald Trump.

Following the money trail, Mueller has perhaps uncovered another crime for which the Trump family may be guilty: racketeering.

Trump SoHo is a 46-story condominium and hotel in lower Manhattan. Before it even broken ground, critics were deeming it a troubled project.

Initially marketed to wealthy foreign customers, it never attracted as many buyers as developers anticipated. One of those investors was the now defunct former Trump Tower occupant, Bayrock Group, with a man named Felix Sater serving as its managing director.

On December 17, 2007, New York Times reporter Charles Bagli revealed that in 1991 then stockbroker Sater was engaged in a bar fight with a commodities broker, whom Sater stabbed in the face with a broken margarita glass, resulting in nerve damage requiring 110 stitches.

Then in 1998, Sater pleaded guilty to participating in a Mafia-linked “pump and dump” stock fraud, laundering money and bilking investors of $40 million.

When brought to his attention, Trump denied any foreknowledge of this, which presented Bayrock with another problem: it had raised money without revealing Sater’s convictions, leaving it susceptible to bank fraud.

The Trump Organization already had issues with Bayrock–budget overruns, a sales office construction disaster, and vicious internal politics, to name a few.

Bayrock then requested a meeting with its principal investors, Donald Sr., Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr.

Since then, Trump SoHo has been involved in perpetual litigation, including a lawsuit claiming it has “questionable” financing sources, from Russia and Kazakhstan.

This is where Robert Mueller’s investigation comes in.

Doing business in Russia requires also doing business with the Russian government. Russian-intelligence operations are often indistinguishable from business; Russian operatives deftly navigate the intermingling of business, intelligence, and organized crime.

Since Bayrock established a foothold in Russia, Mueller is interested in how much, and how entrenched the Trump family may be as well due to its association with Bayrock.

Image credit: Vanity Fair

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.