Sometime in 1984, Russian mafia figure David Bogatin purchases five luxury condos in Trump Tower for $6 million. Donald Trump is in the room with Bogatin when the paperwork is signed.
In 1987, New York finds that the condos were used for money laundering, to hide profits from and evade taxes on 15 million gallons of gasoline he and his associates purchased and distributed in the New York City area.
“During the ’80s and ’90s, we in the U.S. government repeatedly saw a pattern by which criminals would use condos and high-rises to launder money,” says Jonathan Winer, a deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement in the Clinton administration. “It didn’t matter that you paid too much, because the real estate values would rise, and it was a way of turning dirty money into clean money. It was done very systematically, and it explained why there are so many high-rises where the units were sold but no one is living in them.” When Trump Tower was built, as David Cay Johnston reports in The Making of Donald Trump, it was only the second high-rise in New York that accepted anonymous buyers.Craig Unger, The New Republic
Almost a decade later, a Senate Intelligence report confirms that transnational organized crime boss Semion Mogilevich operates in the US. A joint FBI / DOJ report released the same year confirms David and his brother Jacob work for Mogilevich and his associates.
Bogatin isn’t the only Russian mafia figure doing business at Trump Tower. In 1995, authorities find “the godfather of the Russian mob in America” living at the Trump property.
The Russian mafia had been growing in New York City due to a wave of Soviet émigrés and a crackdown on the Italian mob by then prosecutor and Trump friend Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani, who became the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York in 1983, waged a tactical war against New York’s five organized crime families so successful that even the Italian government gave him a medal. But the near elimination of the Italian mafia only cleared the way for Russian criminal domination.Sarah Kendzior, Hiding In Plain Sight
As a pilot in the Soviet army, David Bogatin was best known for shooting down American troops over North Vietnam.
Sarah Kendzior, Hiding In Plain Sight, p.55
Photograph: AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler