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Donald Trump scores rare legal win as DA drops golf course tax probe

NEW YORK (AP) — Make that one less legal headache for Donald Trump.

A suburban New York prosecutor said Thursday that she has closed a multiyear investigation that focused in part on whether the twice-indicted former president or his company misled authorities to reduce taxes on properties they own.

Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah said in a statement that she reached the decision after an investigation that was conducted “objectively, and independent of politics, party affiliation and personal or political beliefs.”

No charges were filed against Trump or his company, the Trump Organization.

Rocah, a Democrat, started investigating Trump in 2021, seeking to determine if he or the Trump Organization provided officials with misleading valuations in an effort to shrink the tax bill on his Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, about 29 miles (46 kilometers) north of midtown Manhattan.

As part of the investigation, Rocah’s office subpoenaed records from the golf course and the town of Ossining, which handles the course’s taxes.

Messages seeking comment were left with Trump and the Trump Organization.

Trump, the early leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, had decried investigations into him and his business practices as a partisan “witch hunt.” The company has described Rocah’s probe in the past as politically motivated and misguided.

Rocah’s announcement came days after Trump was arraigned Tuesday in federal court in Miami on charges he mishandled classified documents and impeded investigators. Trump is also charged in Manhattan in connection with a scheme to bury allegations of extramarital affairs that arose during his first White House run.

Rocah discussed her decision to close the case in an interview earlier Thursday with CBS News, confirming a report Wednesday by the news outlet Insider.

“It’s really important, more important than ever in our country, to make sure that people understand that we have independent prosecutors, we have a justice system that operates independent of politics,” Rocah told CBS.

“I can stand here and proudly say that I’m one of those prosecutors, and I look at every subject of any investigation, every organization that’s a subject of an investigation, the same way,” Rocah said.

Like many property owners, the Trump Organization has fought vigorously to keep its taxes low, battling Ossining for years for lower tax assessments for the Briarcliff Manor course.

The company once valued the golf club for tax purposes at about $1.4 million, later increasing its estimate to $6.5 million, while the town for years valued it at more than $15 million.

In 2021, a New York judge ruled on a compromise that would cut the assessment to $9.5 million for 2021. The compromise also cut assessments going back several years by about 30%, triggering refunds to the company of about $875,000 for overcharges on its back taxes.

At the same time, Trump and his company are accused of inflating the value of assets to impress lenders and business associates. New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump and the Trump Organization last year, alleging they provided banks and others false information about his net worth and the value of assets such as hotels and golf courses.

Among the allegations in that case, which is slated to go to trial in October, is that the company inflated the value of the Briarcliff Manor golf club by millions of dollars by counting fees for memberships that were not sold or were never paid.

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Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/.

Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press


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