Scrutinizing Donald Trump's Alleged Mafia Ties

A decade ago, an impetuous real estate mogul was compelled to answer a series of questions under oath, a result of his own legal maneuverings.

He had filed a libel lawsuit against a writer for authoring a biography of the mogul.

And the wealthy developer who's been part of Manhattan's landscape longer than I have been alive is of course today's President of the United States. The book he filed the lawsuit over was TrumpNation.

Trump lost the case in 2011 -- free speech and all makes winning frivolous libel suits rather cumbersome -- but the deposition remains -- a relic of a dead legal case. Contained within it is an acknowledgment that, in more than 30 instances, Tump lied extensively and proficiently on a range of issues.

Topics about which Trump told blatant untruths included his ownership stake in a yuge Manhattan real estate development outfit; the cost of membership to belong to one of his golf clubs; the Trump Organization's size; and how wealthy he really was. And that's it. Of course, I am kidding... He also lied about how much he charged to give speeches, how many condos he sold, how much debt he was under, and whether he borrowed family money to mitigate the need to file for personal bankruptcy.

Trump also lied about certain business dealings with mob guys -- oh, excuse me, I mean, organized crime figures.

During the deposition, Trump was asked by one of the author's attorneys:

"Have you previously associated with people you knew were members of organized crime?" 

"No, I haven't," Trump responded.

This story has been told previously (by the WSJ and several other papers last year, for one thing). and apparently, it doesn't matter.  Nobody gives a flying "F," Capiche? There's even a VIDEO, below, that details all this -- no one cares....

PLEASE UNDERSTAND: I am not the slightest bit interested in exposing someone who may have told untruths. Rather, I am all about telling stories about the mob, and this is an interesting story...

Trump wanted to crack the Atlantic City casino market open in the late 1970s.

"Two of his partners were men he knew to have organized crime ties: Kenneth Shapiro, who was a bag man for the Philadelphia mob, and Daniel Sullivan, who was a Mafia associate and a labor negotiator," wrote Timothy L. O' Brien in a June 12 Bloomberg View story titled My Lawyers Got Trump to Admit 30 Lies Under Oath.

Trump's partners were "reputable" -- or so he originally told casino regulators in 1982.

A quarter-century later, however, while kicking back aboard his jet with the very author he wound up unsuccessfully suing, Trump spoke about his AC troubles -- as well as memories of the two business partners, Shapiro and Sullivan.

As O' Brien recently wrote:

"They were tough guys," Trump told me. "In fact, they say that Dan Sullivan was the guy that killed Jimmy Hoffa." Sullivan "probably wasn't an honest guy," Trump added, and Shapiro "was like a third-rate, local real estate Mafia."

Daniel Sullivan was the one who handled "labor issues" that arose at Trump’s construction sites. At the time, he was 42, a tall, giant of a man known for his charm and criminal record.

He told Trump that he had a few aces in the hole that would go a long way to succeeding at his job for Trump, which was to head off any union bullshit. He told Trump he was tight with union leaders, some of whom were straight-up wiseguys; he also spoke of connections to the FBI.

"He was . . . a big storyteller,” Trump told The Washington Post last year of Sullivan. He said the man "portrayed himself to be the closest person on earth to the FBI."

Unlike Trump in the deposition, though, turns out that Sullivan was telling the truth. 

One day in April 1981, he walked into Trump’s Manhattan office. With him were two men wearing suits.  

They were FBI agents, and they wanted to talk to Trump about organized crime.

Trump welcomed them in.

"Dan Sullivan was the guy that killed Jimmy Hoffa," Donald Trump claims...

That meeting came at a pivotal time early in Trump’s career, when he was trying to establish himself as a Manhattan developer and Atlantic City casino operator.

Trump soon deepened his interactions with Sullivan, who turned out to be an FBI informant, and cultivated a friendship with one of the FBI agents, a young investigator named Walt Stowe, who was one of Sullivan’s handlers at the agency.

Over the next few years, Trump, Sullivan and Stowe forged a triangle of mutually beneficial interests as Trump sought to grow a casino and real estate empire.

"It tells people he’s a tough, tough, tough businessman," Stowe, long retired from the FBI, told a Washington Post reporter. 

"New York was so totally corrupt and so controlled by the mob in the '80s that in order to be a successful businessman, you had to have some way to work that world.”

So basically (as former Gambino capo Michael DiLeonardo told me last year) if Trump worked with any underworld connections, it was on the most basic level, to protect his business interests. (Previously, I believe I misstated the previous statement.)

There was some hanky panky. For example, New York State Organized Crime Task Force members later said that Trump "circumvented" state limits on individual and corporate contributions "by spreading his payments among eighteen subsidiary companies." He also had to work with unions and companies known to be controlled by New York’s Five Families when Cosa Nostra ran the so-called Concrete Club. Trump's ties to them is documented in court records, federal task force reports and newspaper accounts. 

Noted the WaPo: "No serious presidential candidate has ever had Trump’s depth of documented business relationships with mob-controlled entities." (And that was written before he won the election!)

Additional details of Trump's "ties":
  • He entered into a deal with Sullivan and member of the Mafia (later slated to be hit). 
  • Trump agreed to finance Sullivan’s purchase of a company that the FBI was probing for racketeering. 
  • Trump gave the FBI the green light to run an undercover operation inside one of his casinos.

Trump has minimized his relationship with Sullivan, who died in 1993 (of natural causes -- a heart attack), revealing, say, that he'd briefly used Sullivan as an unpaid consultant.

In an earlier interview, Trump said he continued working with Sullivan only after Stowe and another agent vouched for him as "100 percent clean."

"You know, that solves a lot of problems for me," Trump told The Post. "I mean, it’s hard to say, ‘Gee whiz, you shouldn’t have been working with him.'"

FBI reports -- as well as statements by Stowe -- didn't corroborate what Trump told the newspaper.

A Sept. 22, 1981, report (that resembles a 302 -- my opinion only) noted that agents "have repeatedly told TRUMP that they were not references for [Sullivan] and cannot speak for source’s business dealings."

Sullivan and Trump had a falling-out in the mid-1980s. Sullivan went on to take the stand to testify in a civil case that Trump had used illegal immigrant laborers in Manhattan, which Trump denied. 

"Trump has spoken little about his interactions with the FBI or his friendship with Stowe. Trump told The Post that Stowe was a “high-quality guy” but “not a pal.”

Stowe said he was fond of Trump and emphasized that he had never spotted Trump doing anything illegal.....

This is part of an ongoing, occasional series....