Aerials show Trump ownership in NYC AG investigation
It’s asleep by Donald Trump’s standards, but the former president’s century-old estate in New York’s Westchester County could end up being one of his biggest legal nightmares.
Seven Springs, a 213-acre expanse of nature surrounding a Georgian-style mansion, is the subject of two state investigations: a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and a civil investigation by the New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Both inquiries focus on whether Trump manipulated the value of the property to reap more tax benefits from an environmental conservation deal he struck in late 2015, when he was running for the bid. presidency.
Purchased by Trump in 1995 for $ 7.5 million, Seven Springs came under reconsideration as he prepared to step down and was on the verge of losing the legal protections he had in place. as president. Vance issued new subpoenas in mid-December, and a judge ordered that the evidence be turned over to James’ office nine days after Trump left Washington.
At the heart of the estate is the mansion built as a summer getaway in 1919 by Eugene Meyer, who later became chairman of the Federal Reserve and owner of the Washington Post. In 2006, while pushing a project to build luxury homes on the property near Mount Kisco, Trump pitched the idea that he and his family would move into the mansion, but that never happened.
The brand new 28,322 square foot home had more than a dozen rooms, an indoor pool, bowling alley and tennis court. Meyer’s daughter, the late Katharine Graham, editor of the Washington Post, married in Seven Springs in 1940.
Trump paid around $ 2.25 million below the list price of Seven Springs, acquiring the land as part of an effort to revive his fortunes after a string of failures in the early 1990s, including casino bankruptcies and the sale of his money-losing airline Trump Shuttle.
Trump was planning to turn it into his first championship-caliber golf course, with an exclusive clientele and steep membership fees.
He hired an architectural firm to lay out the fairways and greens, but abandoned the effort when residents expressed concern that lawn chemicals would contaminate nearby Lake Byram, a local source of drinking water.
Trump then tried to build houses. He proposed to build 46 single-family homes, and after that plan also encountered opposition from the community, 15 mansion-sized homes that he described in 2004 as “very high-end residential, as we don’t know. ‘ve never seen it on the east coast. . “The project was delayed by years of litigation and no houses were ever built.
With his development plans dashed, Trump opted for a strategy that would allow him to keep the property but reduce his taxes. He granted an easement to a conservation land trust to preserve 158 acres (60 hectares) of prairie and mature forest.
Trump received an income tax deduction of $ 21 million, equal to the value of the land retained, according to property and court records. The amount was based on a professional appraisal that valued the entire Seven Springs property at $ 56.5 million as of December 1, 2015.
This was a much higher amount than the assessment by local government appraisers, who said the entire estate was worth $ 20 million.
Seven Springs came to the attention of investigators after Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen told a congressional committee in 2019 that Trump had a habit of manipulating property values - into them. inflating in some cases and minimizing them in others to obtain favorable loan terms and tax advantages.
Cohen said Trump had financial statements showing Seven Springs was worth $ 291 million in 2012. He gave copies of three of Trump’s financial statements to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform during his testimony.
Cohen said the statements, from 2011, 2012 and 2013, were ones Trump gave to his main lender, Deutsche Bank, to inquire about a loan to buy the NFL Buffalo Bills and to Forbes magazine for justify his claim to a place on his list of the richest people in the world.
Trump, on his annual financial disclosure forms while he was president, said the property was worth between $ 25 million and $ 50 million.
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