A former New York City Mob underboss says that investigators questioned him in recent years about Trump’s ties to a Russian Mobster who purchased five condos in Trump Tower in the 1980s.
Michael Franzese, who left the Mafia after a stint in prison and became a born-again Christian, made the disclosure in a YouTube video posted to his channel on February 8.
In the video, Franzese says he was questioned — although he wouldn’t say by whom — “during the Mueller investigation.” Franzese says investigators wanted to know about his former business partner, a convicted Russian Mobster named David Bogatin.
In the 1980s, Franzese was a capo in the Colombo crime family when he partnered with Bogatin in a massive gasoline tax scam that generated as much as $9 million in cash, per week, according to Franzese’s 1996 testimony before the Senate.
Franzese revealed in his YouTube video that he had been a silent partner with Bogatin when Bogatin purchased the Trump Tower condos for $5.3 million in 1984. Franzese said Bogatin paid for the condos in cash.
“As a result of that, I got questioned — I’m not gonna tell you by who — during the Mueller investigation because it came out that my friend David was the front guy buying them at that time,” Franzese said.
“They came to me and they tried to establish a Trump connection with Russia as a result of him selling those condos to me and David Bogatin,” he continued.
Franzese said the investigators wanted to know why Trump took cash for the apartments. He says he did not know the answer.
I emailed both Franseze and the Department of Justice to to see if I could find out more. If I get a response, I’ll update this post here.
In his YouTube video, Franzese claimed that Bogatin had a family member in the KGB. This is unlikely given that Bogatin was Jewish. Jews were usually targets of Soviet intelligence, not employees.
What is certain is that Bogatin had a brother, Jacob, who got indicted in 2002 in a massive stock fraud along with Russian Mob boss Semion Mogilevich.
Mogilevich remains a fugitive and, as a result, Jacob Bogatin, his co-defendant, was never brought to trial.
Last I checked, both Jacob and David Bogatin continue to live in the United States.
Franzese also doesn’t mention some other facts I uncovered while reporting my book: First, it was Trump who convinced Bogatin to invest in Trump Tower. And second, Trump insisted on attending the condo signing.
But if Franzese is telling the truth about the investigators who questioned him about Bogatin and the Trump Tower condos, it’s a sign that, nearly 40 years later, Trump’s shady dealings with Russian Mobsters still haunt him.