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Manhattan DA expands criminal investigation Trump Organization finances including family compound

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is to expand its criminal investigation into the finances of the Trump Organization’s finances which include a family compound in Westchester County.

Prosecutors began looking into a 212-acre property called Seven Springs as part of an investigation that started over a year ago.

The compound is one of four Trump Organization properties under investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is probing whether Eric Trump and various corporate entities artificially inflated property values.  

Also in the spotlight: The New York AG is investigating whether there was a tax fraud involving the Seven Springs Estate in Bedford, Westchester County, north of New York City. James’ office said valuations of the Seven Springs Estate were used to claim an apparent $21.1 million tax deduction in the 2015 tax yea

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been conducting a criminal investigation of Trump and the family company, the Trump Organization (file photo from February 2020)

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been conducting a criminal investigation of Trump and the family company, the Trump Organization (file photo from February 2020)

Letitia James said she opened the investigation after Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Trump had inflated or deflated asset values to gain tax and loan advantages

Letitia James said she opened the investigation after Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Trump had inflated or deflated asset values to gain tax and loan advantages

Letitia James said she opened the investigation after Michael Cohen, right, testified to Congress that Trump had inflated or deflated asset values to gain tax and loan advantages

James began investigating potential fraud in Donald Trump’s business dealings in March 2019 after the president’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had repeatedly inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage.  

A 2012 Trump financial document values the property at $291 million, but local agents estimated the property would trade for around $50 million or less.

The Trump Organization acquired the property in 1995 for $7.5 million. 

Over the years, the organization has made several attempts to develop the property with ideas to build a golf course along with plans to build nine homes.  

Eventually such efforts were abandoned in 2015 as the Trump Organization decided to create a conservation easement to a land trust.

The Seven Springs mansion has 60 rooms, 15 bedrooms, and two servants wings

The Seven Springs mansion has 60 rooms, 15 bedrooms, and two servants wings

A 2011 Trump financial document values the Seven Springs property at $261 million, but local agents estimated the property would trade for around $50 million or less

A 2011 Trump financial document values the Seven Springs property at $261 million, but local agents estimated the property would trade for around $50 million or less

It would leave a portion of the property untouched and completely undeveloped from which a tax break could be earned.

By making such a ‘donation’, the Trumps would have been allowed make a tax deduction based on the value of the property. 

The higher the valuation of the property, the larger the tax deduction allowed.

Trump granted a conservation easement of about 158 acres to the North American Land Trust. 

It was appraised at $21.1 million, according to the filings but now investigators are looking to see whether the value was artificially inflated. 

‘Valuations of Seven Springs were used to claim an apparent $21.1 million tax deduction for donating a conservation easement on the property in tax year 2015, and in submissions to financial institutions as a component of Mr. Trump’s net worth,’ according to court filings in the New York attorney general’s investigation.  

The mansion itself was built in 1919 by Eugene Meyer, who was publisher of the Washington Post and a chairman of the Federal Reserve

The mansion itself was built in 1919 by Eugene Meyer, who was publisher of the Washington Post and a chairman of the Federal Reserve

President Trump's Seven Springs estate in Mount Kisco, New York

President Trump’s Seven Springs estate in Mount Kisco, New York

After Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016, he announced that he would not be involved in day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization but would leave the responsibilities to his adult sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. 

Eric Trump was deposed in October as part of the ongoing civil probe into whether the value of Trump Organization assets were inflated to gain tax benefits. 

The inquiry is a civil investigation, which could result in financial penalties but not jail time according to CNN.

Other properties also under investigation include 40 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. 

On Friday, The Associated Press reported investigators in Vance’s office interviewed Michael Cohen for several hours on Thursday. 

They asked him about the president’s business dealings, with particular focus on his relationship with Deutsche Bank, Trump’s biggest lender, who are now looking to sever ties with Trump despite having owing $300 million in loans. 

Trump has accused James and New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, both Democrats, of ‘harassing all of my New York businesses in search of anything at all they can find to make me look as bad as possible.’ 

Eric Trump referred to the home as the family’s ‘compound’ in an interview with Forbes in 2014: ‘When we first bought the property in 1996 I was about 12, 13 years old at the time. Both my brother and I and my father would always put us to work. 

Seven Springs is under investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James (above)

Seven Springs is under investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James (above)

‘We were literally riding mowers around, we were mowing all the fields and cutting down trees. It was probably the best experience in my life in that it was kind of the first lessons about development from my father. It taught me the building blocks of what we do every single day. 

‘This is a place that’s really special to myself, my brother and my father, this is really our compound. I’ve spent so much of my life here and learning the art of the deal on this property.’   

The investigation is just one of multiple potential civil and criminal legal issues that Trump will face once he leaves office, made all the more threatening because he will lose the legal protections afforded a sitting president.

After Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016, he announced that he would not be involved in day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization but would leave the responsibilities to his adult sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr (with him in 2014)

After Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016, he announced that he would not be involved in day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization but would leave the responsibilities to his adult sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr (with him in 2014)

Cyrus Vance’s probe originally focused on hush-money payments made before the 2016 election to two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said they had sexual encounters with Trump, which the president has denied.  

But Vance, a Democrat, suggested in recent court filings the probe had broadened and could now focus on bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records or other schemes to defraud.  

Trump has called the case politically motivated harassment and has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a subpoena issued by a Manhattan grand jury acting at Vance’s request, for years of tax and financial records from his accountants.

Eric Trump, pictured, participated in a deposition remotely in October as part of an ongoing investigation in New York state into the Trump Organizations financial dealings

Eric Trump, pictured, participated in a deposition remotely in October as part of an ongoing investigation in New York state into the Trump Organizations financial dealings


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