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The Trump Organization faces a new criminal inquiry tied to a New York golf club

Source: NPR

A New York prosecutor has opened up a previously unreported criminal probe of Trump Organization finances, NPR has confirmed.

The investigation by Westchester District Attorney Miriam E. “Mimi” Rocah is examining property valuations at Trump National Golf Club Westchester, north of New York City. A source with knowledge of the investigation has confirmed that the town that collects local taxes from the course, Ossining, has received a subpoena from Rocah’s office for documents.

The investigation was first reported by The New York Times. The Times also reports that Rocah has subpoenaed records from the golf club. Roach’s office declined to comment on the case.

Trump and the town of Ossining have tussled for years over property tax assessments.

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In a 2018 interview with WNYC and ProPublica, Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg noted that Trump once claimed a value for tax purposes that was less than a tenth of what the town believed the property was worth. After Trump was sworn in, his business continued its pattern of suing Ossining over its property tax assessments.

In that interview, Levenberg pointed to the awkwardness of facing a lawsuit from the business of a sitting U.S. president. “It is certainly uncomfortable at best,” she said.

The entrance to Trump National Golf Club is seen in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., on Wednesday. Former President Donald Trump’s company is under criminal investigation by a district attorney in the New York City suburb into whether it misled officials to cut taxes for a golf course there.
Seth Wenig/AP

A Trump organization spokeswoman, Kimberly Benza, responded over email: “The suggestion that anything was inappropriate is completely false and incredibly irresponsible.” She noted that Trump and the town of Ossining agreed to a compromise on valuing the property last July.

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That agreement reduced the property’s assessed value and resulted in a refund for Trump of $875,000, according to the New York Times.

Roach’s probe adds to Trump’s considerable legal headaches in New York. In July, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. brought an indictment against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, over what Vance says was a 15-year scheme to avoid state, local, and federal taxes through undeclared perks and other illegal maneuvers. The Trump Organization and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty.

The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, is conducting her own civil probe of Trump Organization business practices.

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Both Vance and James have signaled an interest in examining Trump’s financial statements about another Westchester County property, the Seven Springs estate. But the Ossining golf club does not appear to have drawn their attention.

The Trump National Golf Club Westchester boasts a waterfall more than 100 feet high, tennis courts, and a pool. Members of the club have included Jack Nicholson, Bill Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani. Trump purchased the land for the club in a foreclosure sale in 1996, paying $8 million. Trump began contesting his property tax assessments as early as 2002.

This article originally appeared on npr.org and has been updated.

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