Trump Briarcliff Manor Golf Club Faces Criminal Probe
Westchester DA Mimi Rocah is investigating the former president's local golf outpost over property taxes.
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The Westchester district attorney’s office subpoenaed records from both the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor and the Town of Ossining, which handles the club’s taxes — the latest criminal probe into the former president’s financial dealings.
While the full scope of the investigation has not yet been determined, it appears to be focused on whether the Trump Organization — the entity through which Trump manages all of his ventures from office towers and hotels to golf courses and marketing deals — misled local officials about the value of the private club to reduce its property taxes, according to the New York Times’ report on Wednesday.
At this time, it remains unclear whether the investigation is examining Trump’s conduct or if, pending the results of the investigation, it would lead to criminal charges. District Attorney Mimi Rocah’s spokeswoman Jess Vecchiarelli declined to provide a comment on the investigation’s scope to Examiner+.
On Wednesday, the Trump Organization said in a statement that the probe was politically motivated and noted that it had previously come to a compromise with the Town over its efforts to cut taxes, which was signed off by a county judge.
“The suggestion that anything was inappropriate is completely false and incredibly irresponsible,” the Trump statement said. “The witch hunt continues.”
For years, the Trump Organization has been squabbling with the Town of Ossining for lower tax assessments of the Westchester golf course. While the Town valued it for years at more than $15 million, the company once valued the club at only $1.4 million, later increasing its estimate to $6.5 million. According to federal disclosure forms during his presidency, Trump appraised his club at more than $50 million.
In July, a New York judge ruled on a compromise to cut the assessment to $9.5 million for 2021, as well as cut assessments for several years prior by about 30 percent. As a result, Trump Organization recouped roughly $875,000 for overcharges on its back taxes.
Addressing the public at its July 27 meeting, Ossining Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg said the Board had a fiduciary duty to the Town.
“We believe this settlement is in the best interest of the Town’s taxpayers for several reasons, including it avoids what would be a lengthy and costly litigation as well as the possibility that the Town would not prevail in the litigation, in which case the Town would end up worse off in both the short- and long-term,” Levenberg said.
Levenberg was not available for a comment on the subpoena the town received from Rocah’s office.
Briarcliff Manor Mayor Steven Vescio said payouts for two golf courses within the Village, Trump National Golf Club and Sleepy Hollow Country Club, have had a large impact on its $18 million annual budget.
“We've now had to pay out for two golf courses to the tune of about $300,000,” Vescio said. “Every year, we have a budget line item of $100,000 for tax tertiary refunds, and we never really exceeded it.
“Then the last couple of years, it's been crazy, especially with these two golf courses,” Vescio continued. “They were definitely the bulk of it.”
Currently, the Village has no assessment authority over the valuation of properties like Trump National Golf Club, Vescio explained. Instead, it falls within the Town of Ossining’s jurisdiction.
“[The court order] ends up coming at us, and we just have to basically write a check,” Vescio said.
The probe from the Westchester County district attorney’s office joins many legal challenges currently facing the former president and Trump Organization. In July, longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg was indicted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office on 15 felony counts, including tax fraud and grand larceny, the first criminal charges against the company.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which took part in the Manhattan district attorney probe, also launched its own investigation into Trump’s finances looking into whether the Trump Organization misled tax officials in the valuation of another of the company’s Westchester properties — Seven Springs, a 213-acre estate surrounding a Georgian-style mansion in Mount Kisco.
“More broadly, there are ten ongoing civil and criminal cases against Trump outside the scope of directly what he did during his presidency,” Amy Siskind, a Westchester-based activist and author of The List: A Week-by-Week Reckoning of Trump’s First Year, said.
“What we’re finally seeing is some accountability for lawlessness, and I salute our new district attorney for investigating what's happened here as well,” Siskind said. “We have a justice system. Everybody should obey the law, and if they don't, they should be held accountable.”
Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, the former president’s presence — as well as his real estate holdings — in Westchester County have been a continued source of local outrage.
Bailey Hosfelt is a full-time Reporter at Examiner Media, covering LGBTQ+ issues, climate change, the environment, and more. You can follow Bailey on Twitter at @baileyhosfelt.
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