New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission fines the Trump Plaza $450,000 for trying to evade gambling laws to refund an organized crime figure for money he lost at the casino. The fine is the second largest in the city’s 13 years of legal gambling.
Robert LiButti lost $4.34 at the Trump Plaza casino in the late ’80s. In 1988, the casino concocted a scheme with LiButti and a local car dealership. The Plaza would buy a luxury car and gift it to LiButti. Instead of picking the car up at the dealership, he used the dealership to sell the car to a third party and spent the profits at the casino. This operation lasted at least a year and included nine vehicles, totaling a $1.6 million refund for LiButti.
Until recently, state gambling laws banned casinos from providing guests with cash comps of any amount. Trump Plaza tried to escape these laws by providing the cars instead of cash. But since the vehicles were never registered to LiButti, cash from each sell belonged to the Trump Plaza when it entered his wallet.
Libutti’s name has surfaced several times in unrelated disciplinary matters with Trump Plaza and other casinos. He is barred from entering the casinos for alleged organized crime ties.The Associated Press
Depending on who bought the vehicles, the scheme might have been a way for organized crime groups to funnel money to Trump’s businesses. During the state’s investigation, LiButti was caught on tape referring to Gambino crime family leader John Gotti Jr. as his boss. (This isn’t Trump’s only connection to the Gambino family, either.)
However, the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement says the arrangement was made to keep LiButti coming to the casino. Trump Plaza was also known to remove black and female dealers from tables when LiButti sat down.
Years later, Trump claims he doesn’t know anyone named Robert LiButti. The gambler’s daughter says that’s a lie.
Trump Plaza president Jack O’Donnell later says that during one of these helicopter trips, Trump agreed to pay LiButti $500,000 for one of his racehorses. Trump wanted to rename the horse “D.J. Trump” but backed out after the horse went lame.
Footage from WrestleMania IV, held in Atlantic City on March 27, 1988, shows Trump and LiButti together. They’re seated in the front row with Ivana.
Another photo shows the pair together three years later, in September 1994.
A New Jersey state law enforcement file from March 1991 reads: “Respondent is an associate of John Gotti, reputed boss of the Gambino organized crime family of New York City. Respondent gambled at four Atlantic City casinos between 9/84 and 10/90 gambling almost $20 million and losing almost $12 million. He has received complimentaries in excess of $3.5 million.”
The Associated Press (Archived)
NJ Office of the Attorney General (Archived)
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