City and State Prosecutors Team Up on Criminal Probe of Trump Finances at FiDi Landmark
The 70-story, Depression-Era skyscraper at 40 Wall Street, owned by Donald Trump, is the focus of a criminal investigation by New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance and New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
In a story first reported by the Washington Post, New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance has expanded his longstanding probe of the finances of former President Donald Trump to include possible criminal charges. The office of New York State Attorney General Leticia James is also cooperating with Mr. Vance’s criminal investigation.
One focus of this joint inquiry is the office building at 40 Wall Street, which Ms. James has been examining for evidence of whether Mr. Trump (who holds a “ground lease” on the 1930 skyscraper through the year 2059, for which he currently pays $2,315,000 per year) fraudulently inflated the property’s value in loan documents, when using the structure as collateral.
At issue is whether Mr. Trump made false claims about the value of 40 Wall Street when he refinanced a mortgage on the property several times, after buying the lease for $1 million in 1995. Court documents filed by the Attorney General’s office note that he obtained loans against 40 Wall Street in 2005, 2010, and 2015. The $160 million mortgage from 2015 is the largest single debt carried by the Trump Organization, for which Mr. Trump is personally responsible for $20 million. This interest-only loan is due to be repaid in full in 2025.
Heavily redacted documents on file with the New York State Supreme court note that “Loan documents required Mr. Trump…” followed by three lines of blacked out text. Another paragraph says, “Information regarding the Trump Organization’s reporting of the value of 40 Wall Street is significant to the Attorney General’s investigation…” followed by five lines of missing text.
Ms. James began her probe in 2019, after Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s onetime personal lawyer and erstwhile fixer, testified before Congress that, “it was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.” During the same hearing, when Mr. Cohen was asked if the President or his company ever overstated the value of assets when applying for a loan, he answered, “yes.”
The court documents filed by the Attorney General argue that, “Trump’s annual financial statements inflated the values of Trump’s assets to obtain favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage, while also deflating the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes.”
The significance of the change revealed by the Washington Post is that these probes began as purely civil matters, in which Mr. Trump (or any other possible defendant) faced only the possibility of financial penalties. Now that a criminal investigation has begun, it is at least theoretically possible that any prospective defendant (including Mr. Trump) could be subject to a prison sentence, if convicted.
In the 26 years since Mr. Trump acquired the lease on the building, 40 Wall Street has become home to a host of troubled and legally questionable enterprises. A 2016 analysis by Bloomberg noted that the structure has housed (in addition to the now-defunct Trump University and Trump Mortgage firms) multiple unregistered securities dealers specializing in penny stocks, an attorney who eventually pleaded guilty to stealing millions of dollars from clients, an attorney who specialized in large-scale immigration fraud, a Ponzi-scheme operator, a marijuana smuggler, and two financiers who (separately) tried to fake their own deaths when clients sought to withdraw their funds. (Both were later imprisoned.)
The building itself appears to be experiencing financial distress. According to loan documents related to the mortgage secured by 40 Wall Street, the property has for years underperformed the revenue projections that Mr. Trump used to obtain the mortgage, which is graded BBB- (the worst quality of investment-grade debt) by Fitch Ratings, and was put on a mortgage “watchlist” by Wells Fargo last November.
‘A Whimsical Oasis’
Little Island Opens to Rave Reviews
The Lower West Side of Manhattan officially has another stunning public space: On Friday morning, the Hudson River Park Trust debuted Little Island, the new park located just off the shoreline, at 13th and West Streets. The park offers more than two acres of gardens, glades, lawns, performance spaces and picnic grounds.
All of this greenery is hoisted above the water by 280 slender concrete columns, driven hundreds of feet down into the riverbed, and supporting 132 flower-shaped masonry “tulips”—pods that appear to be separate platforms from outside Little Island, but form a continuous, undulating surface when seen from the inside. Each of these structural bulbs is a different size, shape, and elevation.
As we come out of covid, it’s clear the city’s thriving cultural scene is on its way back — and Lower Manhattan’s leading the way.
In May, the Downtown Alliance teamed up with En Garde Arts and + The Tankto present Downtown Live, a multi-weekend festival stocked with live performances ranging from music to theater to spoken poetry. The revival of Downtown’s cultural scene continues into June, with the return of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival.
The festival, which runs June 10–June 27, joins the explosion of post-vaccine outdoor events and art exhibits that are set to take over the city this summer. Here are five acts you won’t want to miss, and visit lmcc.net/river-to-river-festival for the full schedule.
Opening Concert featuring Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington and Leo Genovese (June 10)
Spalding is a jazz musician who made waves when she beat out Drake and Justin Bieber to win the Best New Artist Grammy in 2011. Since then she’s won three other Grammys and has been labeled the “21st century jazz genius” by NPR.
Processions with Miguel Gutierrez, Okwui Okpokwasili and The Illustrious Blacks
(June 13, 20, 25)
Artist Okwui Okpokwasili is following up her recent piece on the High Line called “On the way, undone” with another processional performance, which means you get to participate in the art. Okpokwasili’s performance will happen at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City on June 20, followed by processions led by choreographer Gutierrez and musical duo the Illustrious Blacks will also conduct processions on June 13 and June 25.
Kamau Ware, Land of the Blacks (June 10-27)
Black history scholar and co-found of Black Gotham Experience Kamau Ware is writing an original piece on “Land of the Blacks,” 28 Black-owned farmsteads that once covered a swath of Lower Manhattan. It will debut on the River to River website.
Womxn in Windows (June 15-27)
Womxn in Windows is a multi-part video installation installed in Windows across the Seaport District. They’ll focus on the confluence of culture and society in an exploration of the multi-faceted female identity, created by artists from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Mariana Valencia, Futurity (June 25-27)
Choreographer and performer Mariana Valencia brings a 2021 version of Futurity, a dance performance that will transmit the queer stories of elders in Greenwich Village from the 1960s to the present.
Landmarks Agency Mulls Protection for Chinatown Monument
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has agreed to consider a proposal to confer legally protected status on the Kimlau War Memorial, a granite ceremonial arch located in Chinatown, at the convergence of Chatham Square, Oliver Street, and East Broadway. If approved by the LPC, this designation would be New York’s first individual landmark to commemorate the role of Chinese-Americans in the City’s history.
The arch, which is designed to serve as a gateway to Chinatown, is named for Benjamin Ralph Kimlau, who grew up in Lower Manhattan and graduated from what is now known as the U.S. Army War College in 1937. He signed up for pilot training after the United States entered World War Two four years later.
Bias Crime at Borough of Manhattan Community College
The window outside an art exhibit honoring the military service of African-American soldiers was defaced with graffiti containing racial epithets on Sunday evening. The exhibit is housed in the Shirley Fiterman Art Center of Borough of Manhattan Community College, located at the corner of Barclay Street and West Broadway.
The work, entitled “In the Line of Fire,” is by Mildred Howard, a prolific mixed-media and installation artist, whose work consistently draws on a broad range of historical and contemporary experiences, and emphasizes her commitment to issues of social justice and community activism. The installation consists of approximately 60 life-size figures made from cut-out sheets of plywood that have been silkscreen-printed with the image of a single repeated figure in a World War One-era uniform — a young African American man in his teens, who was a distant relative of Ms. Howard. To read more…
Be advised that more dates have been made available for the vaccination program the Conrad Hotel.
Goldman Sachs, alongside American Express, has partnered with New York City and CVS Health to offer a COVID-19 vaccination program at the Conrad Hotel. All lower Manhattan residents and employees who meet the eligibility requirements are welcome to schedule appointments for the Pfizer vaccine.
In order to qualify for the COVID-19 vaccination program, individuals must be aged 12 years or over and be a resident of New York State OR work/study full-time in New York State.
Scheduling and Location Details
All who meet the eligibility requirements can schedule appointments on the New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Finder by selecting the Conrad Hotel location or use the following links.
Twin brothers Henry and Bernard Schanzer were born in Belgium in 1935. When the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1940, the Schanzer family escaped to Saint-Étienne in the south of France, which shortly fell under Vichy rule. After living openly as Jews in Saint-Étienne for almost two years, the seven-year-old brothers went into hiding in 1942 on a farm in Saint-Pal-de-Mons. With the assistance of several righteous Catholics—including a local dressmaker and a Count and Countess who were part of the French resistance—the brothers, their sister, and their mother survived until the end of the war. Their father, who wasn’t able to hide with his family in the countryside, was sent to Auschwitz. After emigrating to the United States in 1946, Henry Schanzer became an attorney and Bernard Schanzer became a doctor. $10
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Multiple New Bikes Lanes Coming to Lower Manhattan, Adding to Growing Local Network
The City’s Department of Transportation will begin this month implementing a plan—first approved in the spring last year, but delayed by the onset of the pandemic coronavirus—to add more bike lanes to the Lower Manhattan’s streetscape.
Two new physically segregated bicycle thoroughfares will be constructed in the next few weeks: a southbound connection linking Varick Street to West Broadway, and a northbound route via Church Street and Sixth Avenue.
Also coming soon is a protected section of Centre Street—a stretch that will connect Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan to Tribeca and Chinatown. To read more…
City Hall Hopeful Arrested Blocking Traffic in Lower Manhattan to Mark George Floyd Anniversary
Mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan was arrested Tuesday afternoon on Canal Street, after participating in a non-violent protest, which blocked traffic at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. The demonstration was intended to commemorate the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd, who was murdered by the Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.
Mr. Donovan and roughly one dozen other protestors assumed kneeling positions across the ramp to the Holland Tunnel located at Canal and Hudson Streets, preventing traffic from entering for approximately eight minutes and 46 seconds—originally said to be the length of time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck, causing his death. Later, the time was corrected to nine minutes and 29 seconds. On April 20, the former officer was convicted two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in the killing of Mr. Floyd. To read more…
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.