DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Crime

Trump: Cocaine Dealer? What Cocaine Dealer?

Tycoon claimed not to recall vouching for felon

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Trump DGE Report

MARCH 1--In a sworn interview with Atlantic City casino regulators, Donald Trump once claimed not to recall whether he had written a character reference letter for a convicted felon who was awaiting sentencing for cocaine trafficking, records show.

During a September 1990 meeting with Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) officials, Trump was questioned about his relationship with Joseph Weichselbaum, who, earlier that year, had completed a prison sentence on narcotics distribution and tax charges.

Before he was barred from the casino industry due to his criminal entanglements, Weichselbaum managed a helicopter company that ferried high rollers to Trump’s Atlantic City casinos (business that was worth $2 million annually).

As detailed in a DGE report, Trump told New Jersey investigators that he “could not recall if he had written any letters of reference to the federal judge who sentenced Weichselbaum” four years earlier. At the time of Trump’s interview, regulators did not have a copy of the letter the developer wrote on Weichselbaum’s behalf.

After DGE representatives subsequently obtained a copy of the December 1986 missive, Trump “acknowledged that it bears his signature.”

Trump wrote that Weichselbaum was “conscientious, forthright and diligent” in his business dealings. The tycoon--who described Weichselbaum as a “credit to the community”--told DGE officials that he “could not recall who asked him to write the letter of reference.”

While the Republican presidential candidate has recently shown marked memory lapses and cognitive deficiencies, Trump’s inability to recall penning the Weichselbaum letter still seems odd, especially since there is no evidence that the developer had ever written on behalf of anyone else awaiting sentencing.

Additionally, when Trump was recently challenged on his claim to have seen TV footage showing thousands of New Jersey residents celebrating the 9/11 attacks, the 69-year-old assured an NBC reporter that he has “the world’s greatest memory.”

At the time Trump authored his pre-sentencing letter, Weichselbaum’s rap sheet already included separate convictions for grand theft auto and the embezzlement of more than $130,000 from a Brooklyn company. As a federal prosecutor noted in one court filing, Weichselbaum (seen above) “was a felon even before becoming a drug dealer.”

As TSG recently reported, Weichselbaum, now 74 and living in Los Angeles, distributed kilos of cocaine that had been smuggled into Florida by a pair of Colombian brothers. Weichselbaum, who faced a maximum of 18 years in prison, was sentenced to only three years in custody, in part due to his cooperation with Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

Court records show that Weichselbaum--who also trafficked marijuana--associated with other Miami narcotics distributors, including a pair of Mafia associates. A government witness told federal agents that Weichselbaum indicated that one of the wiseguys was his “heavy” or “his muscle, his force.”

In addition to the September 1990 interview, DGE also questioned Trump about Weichselbaum in August 1992 (the latter meeting was prompted by revelations in author Wayne Barrett’s investigative biography of Trump, which was published in January 1992).

During one of the DGE sessions, Trump claimed that he “has not communicated with Weichselbaum for many years” and “has no present business or social relationship” with the twice-convicted felon. Trump did acknowledge, however, seeing Weichselbaum “walking through Trump Tower recently.”

Following Weichselbaum’s release from Bureau of Prisons custody, he moved into the Fifth Avenue tower, where his girlfriend had purchased a pair of adjoining apartments on the condo's 49th floor (for $2.35 million).

Prior to entering prison, Weichselbaum rented an apartment that Trump himself personally owned in Trump Plaza on East 61st Street. The developer, DGE noted, was “involved in negotiating” the two-year lease signed by Weichselbaum and his brother. The $7000 monthly rent was payable by “$3000 plus $4000 in monthly helicopter service.”

In his book, Barrett reported that Trump considered stashing his mistress Marla Maples in Weichselbaum’s rental apartment after the cocaine trafficker surrendered to prison. Asked about this, “DJT has emphatically denied this allegation,” the DGE report noted. (4 pages)