President Donald Trump is being sued by Port Washington-based lawyers who represent current and former tenants claiming that the Trump family, including a now-deceased cousin in Manhasset, "padded" the cost of apartment improvements in New York City to cheat on their taxes and hike the tenants’ rent.
Trump’s late father, real estate developer Fred Trump, is accused of paying inflated costs for refrigerators, stoves, boilers and other "capital improvements" on Trump-owned rentals via "a sham corporation" — All County Building Supply & Maintenance Corp. — controlled by the family, allowing the Trumps as landlords to raise rent under the state’s rent-stabilization laws that tie certain rent hikes to capital improvements, according to the lawsuit.
"He was basically taking money from these blue-collar workers who could barely pay their rent and put food on their tables and giving it to his millionaire children," said one of the lawyers, Jerrold S. Parker, who with partner Raymond C. Silverman filed a 183-page complaint Tuesday at Brooklyn State Supreme Court.
No one representing the president or his family could be immediately reached Saturday for comment.
A spokeswoman for the Trump family told The Washington Post the lawsuit was "completely frivolous."
"Not only are the allegations completely unsupported by any evidence, but they relate to events which go back nearly 30 years — yet were never once raised by anyone at any time only to be conveniently filed just one month before the 2020 Presidential election," said Kimberly Benza, the family representative.
Parker said that the suit, while filed in October to meet the statute of limitations, was not publicized, and got no publicity, until last week — weeks after the election — when a more comprehensive filing was made in court.
In the twilight of his presidency, Donald Trump is facing many other legal issues, including investigations by various law enforcement entities and litigation over defamation, inheritance disputes and other matters.
The latest lawsuit names 20 current and former tenants but seeks to be certified as a class-action lawsuit that could spread to cover thousands. Among the defendants are Donald Trump; his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal judge; his now-deceased brother, Robert S. Trump; the now-deceased cousin, John W. Walter; and others. The current owners and others connected with the properties are also defendants, because they have cumulatively benefited from the rent hiked long ago.
"All County purchased the items at pre-negotiated prices, and then issued padded invoices marking those prices way up to the Trump operating companies. Defendants pocketed the difference. Transaction by transaction, money was siphoned from the Trump operating companies," the suit alleges, adding: "the All County scam was one of the ways Defendants avoided inheritance taxes, and the marked-up invoices also helped the Trumps justify rent hikes on their low-income tenants."
Parker said he believes that key evidence related to the alleged scam was kept in Walter’s basement in Manhasset. Parker said he has served a preservation notice on Walter's estate "not to destroy" the material. All County was headquartered at Walter's Manhasset Woods Road home.