Manhattan DA prosecutors subpoenaed an elite Manhattan private school as part of its investigation into Trump

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Manhattan prosecutors subpoenaed a private school for its Trump investigation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • It’s reportedly examining whether tuition payments for the Trump Organization’s CFO broke tax laws.
  • The school received more than $500,000 in tuition overall, according to Jennifer Weisselberg.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York prosecutors have subpoenaed an elite private school in Manhattan as part of an investigation into former President Donald Trump and his Trump Organization, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sources told the Journal that Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School was subpoenaed by prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg’s grandchildren are students at the school. Prosecutors are reportedly trying to “flip” Weisselberg, who also oversees the Trump family’s finances, into cooperating with the investigation into irregularities in Trump’s and the Trump Organization’s finances.

Jennifer Weisselberg – the childrens’ mother – previously told Insider that Trump would include school tuition in the compensation package for her former husband, Barry Weisselberg. She is a cooperating witness in investigations from both the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the New York Attorney General’s office.

Prosecutors may be examining whether the tuition arrangement allowed Barry or Allen Weisselberg to avoid paying taxes, according to the Journal.

Jennifer Weisselberg told the Journal that more than $500,000 in tuition was paid for with checks written either by Trump or Allen Weisselberg. But the records in her possession don’t show who made the payments, the Journal reported.

The subpoenas for the elite Upper West Side school will allow prosecutors to obtain copies of the transactions for tuition payments, which may tell them whether they came from Trump, Allen Weisselberg, Barry Weisselberg, the Trump Organization, or some other source.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office have already gone to the Supreme Court to subpoena reams of financial documents from the Trump Organization, including tax filings. They have also subpoenaed Allen Weisselberg’s bank records.

The Trumps and Weisselbergs have ties to Columbia Grammar

Michael Cohen, a former executive at the Trump Organization and personal lawyer for Trump, was previously the chairman of Columbia Grammar’s board. He helped make sure the Weisselberg grandchildren would be considered for admission, Jennifer Weisselberg previously told Insider.

The children of Jack Weisselberg, Allen Weisselberg’s other son, have also attended Columbia Grammar, according to the Journal.

Barron Trump, the former president’s youngest son, attended the school when he lived in New York City.

And the Trump Foundation – Donald Trump’s now-dissolved charity organization – donated $150,000 to the school between 2014 and 2016, according to the Journal’s review of tax filings.

donald trump jr allen weisselberg
Allen Weisselberg in 2016.

A court ordered the dissolution of the Trump Foundation in 2019, after New York Attorney General Letitia James brought a lawsuit accusing it of misusing funds.

James’s office is conducting its own investigation into Trump’s and the Trump Organization’s finances. It has made fewer public moves than the investigation from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Vance is set to retire in December, and is widely expected to make a decision about whether to bring charges against Trump or the Trump Organization before then.

Trump faces numerous other legal headaches, including investigations into his conduct as president, lawsuits over sexual misconduct allegations, and an investigation in Georgia into his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results there.

In an earlier interview with Insider, Jennifer Weisselberg said the Trump Organization would pay employees like her former husband with perks like tuition and housing instead of cash as a way to control their lives.

“They want you to do crimes and not talk about it and don’t leave,” she said.

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Matt Gaetz’s indicted associate Joel Greenberg has been cooperating against him since last year, report says

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen during a break in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

  • Joel Greenberg has been cooperating against Rep. Matt Gaetz since last year, NYT reported.
  • Greenberg reportedly told investigators that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex.
  • Gaetz has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported that he was being investigated over whether he broke sex trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and close associate of GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, has been cooperating with federal investigators since last year, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Greenberg has given investigators information about an “array of topics,” the report said, including encounters that he and Gaetz allegedly had with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

The Justice Department first indicted Greenberg last June, and he resigned from his government position shortly after. Since then, he’s been charged with 33 counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.

Gaetz, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported last month that the Justice Department was investigating him as part of the Greenberg inquiry. In particular, the feds are said to be looking into whether Gaetz had sex with a minor and violated sex trafficking laws.

The Florida Republican lawmaker has fervently denied the allegations against him and claimed the department’s probe is part of an elaborate and convoluted extortion scheme against his family.

A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday’s reporting comes after prosecutors and Greenberg’s defense attorneys told a judge last week that they were close to reaching a plea deal.

It’s unclear what the terms of the agreement would be, but Greenberg’s lawyer Fritz Scheller hinted that his client was cooperating with prosecutors, telling reporters last week, “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

It’s unusual for prosecutors or defense attorneys to publicize the existence of a plea deal because they’d want to avoid tipping off other targets.

“I don’t know if [Scheller’s] foreshadowing, I don’t know what the motive would be because generally cooperators don’t want people to know they’re cooperating,” Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who was the lead agent in the government’s case against ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider. “But maybe that buck has passed because this case has been so publicly talked about.”

The Times’ report on Tuesday, which revealed that Greenberg has been cooperating since last year, also suggests he didn’t have much to lose when lawyers for the prosecution and defense told the court last week that a plea deal was on the horizon.

Based on media reporting about the Gaetz probe, prosecutors likely have a large trail of breadcrumbs to follow as they work to corroborate the allegations against the GOP lawmaker.

The investigation is said to be looking into whether he used campaign money to fund travel for women, and The Times reported investigators were scrutinizing Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.”

CBS News reported that prosecutors were also zeroing in on a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019 with a hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur who is accused of footing the bill for female sex workers, hotel rooms, and travel expenses. And The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 via Venmo in 2018 and that Greenberg then sent $900, in varying amounts, to three young women.

But there’s other information that prosecutors would need to build a strong case, details they may not be able to glean from records and documents.

That’s where Greenberg comes in.

For one, he could have been privy to conversations in which only he and Gaetz were present or private communications that took place on encrypted apps, in text messages that could have been deleted, or on a burner phone.

“There could be a number of things they did that the government may not have access to or doesn’t even know exist,” Ebadi said.

But the biggest thing he could speak to, she added, is whether Gaetz expressed his intent in the conduct he’s accused of engaging in.

“Depending on what prosecutors charge, often an element in various cases is intent, or proving someone’s knowledge or willfulness when committing a crime,” Ebadi said, adding that with Greenberg, “you could have someone that was present when [Gaetz] was making statements like, ‘I’m going to do this,’ or ‘I’m doing this for these particular reasons.’ Those are crucial words in a case like this, especially when it comes to that element of intent.”

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Who is Rep. Matt Gaetz’s fiancée? Meet Ginger Luckey, a 26-year-old Harvard business student and the congressman’s ‘travel buddy’

matt gaetz fiance
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., with his fiancée, Ginger Luckey.

  • The federal investigation involving Rep. Matt Gaetz has brought attention to his love life.
  • The Florida Republican is engaged to Ginger Luckey, 26.
  • She studies at Harvard Business School and considers herself his “travel buddy.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

With Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida ensnared in a federal sex trafficking investigation into whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, his fiancée has been thrust into the spotlight.

Ginger Luckey, a 26-year-old Harvard Business School student, has been engaged to Gaetz since December 30, 2020.

Gaetz and Luckey met at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club last March

Luckey spoke with the Daily Mail about her relationship with the 38-year-old Gaetz, detailing how she met the conservative congressman.

She said her mother “dragged” her to an event at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in March 2020, and that they attended Kimberly Guilfoyle‘s wedding together shortly thereafter.

Luckey’s brother is a notable startup founder

Palmer Luckey sold his company Oculus VR to Facebook for a reported $2 billion in 2014.

A self-identified libertarian, Luckey’s 28-year-old brother held a fundraiser for Trump and has donated to the Republican Party, according to Open Secrets, a campaign finance watchdog group.

Gaetz and Luckey live on separate coasts, but have been traveling together during the pandemic

Luckey told the Daily Mail that working remotely as a food analyst in California during the pandemic has let her spend more time with her future husband.

“So I have been traveling with him everywhere,” she said. “I am his travel buddy.”

In early reports on the federal investigation, Gaetz’s travel with an underage girl is one area of interest.

“I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I’ve dated,” Gaetz recently told Axios. “You know, I’ve paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner. I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not.”

Luckey graduated from college in 2016 and is attending business school online

She attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, according to her LinkedIn page, and is now enrolled in the Harvard business program online. She majored in economics and accounting while studying as a Gaucho.

Gaetz apparently wants an Elvis impersonator to preside over their wedding

“It’ll be between now and 2024,” Luckey said of their wedding plans in the Daily Mail interview. “We are flexible and have no time span yet.”

“Matt wants an Elvis impersonator to preside,” she continued. “I want multiple venues, so we’ll see.”

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The New York prosecutor investigating Trump’s tax records is calling in reinforcements as the president’s time in office comes to an end

Donald Trump wildcard
US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on December 7, 2020.

  • Forensic accounting specialists have been brought on to help with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s probe into President Donald Trump’s business transactions, The Washington Post reported. 
  • This is part of an ongoing investigation that’s expanded since it was opened two years ago. 
  • District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. asked FTI Consulting to advise prosecutors on whether or not Trump or his company altered the value of some assets for tax purposes. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office currently running a probe into President Donald Trump’s finances has tapped forensic accounting specialists for help, The Washington Post reported. 

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has expanded his initial 2018 probe into hush money paid to two women who say they had sexual relationships with Trump before he was president. Vance has now asked FTI Consulting to look for discrepancies among some property deals and consult with prosecutors on whether or not Trump’s company altered the value of some assets for tax breaks. 

Earlier this year, Vance asked a judge for eight years of Trump’s tax records on the grounds that media reports had identified “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization. Trump has fought the release of those records in court, but Vance has also expanded the scope of the investigation since then. 

Vance interviewed bankers and insurers who work for the president this month. Investigators at the DA’s office spoke with employees of Trump’s primary lender, Deutsche Bank and Aon, his main insurer. 

Trump has recently expressed concern over the large scope of the investigation as his presidency comes to an end. 

“Now I hear that these same people that failed to get me in Washington have sent every piece of information to New York so that they can try to get me there,” Trump said in speech earlier this month. “It’s all been gone over, over, and over again.”

According to Jason Zirkle with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners who spoke to The Post, Vance may have hired the firm to help counter any arguments that the investigation is driven by political animus.

One source who asked to remain anonymous told The Post analysts with FTI Consulting may have already reviewed some of Trump’s dealings as part of a grand jury investigation and could potentially testify if criminal charges are filed. 

Vance’s office could not be reached for comment by phone at the time of publication and the Trump organization has not replied to Insider’s request for comment.

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