The Manhattan district attorney’s office has hired a high-profile attorney with decades of experience with white collar crime cases as it ramps up its investigation into Donald Trump‘s business dealings.
Mark Pomerantz, a former prosecutor for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, joined Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr’s team as a special assistant district attorney earlier this month, Vance’s office confirmed last week.
Pomerantz has already hit the ground running, conducting an interview with Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen on Thursday, Reuters reported.
His hiring is part of a flurry of recent activity in Vance’s investigation into the Trump family business, a probe which has been open for two and a half years.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office hired Mark Pomerantz (pictured in 2008), a high-profile attorney with decades of experience with white collar crime cases, this month as it ramps up its investigation into Donald Trump’s business dealings
Pomerantz’ hiring is part of a flurry of recent activity in Vance’s investigation into the Trump family business, which has been open for two and a half years. Pictured: Trump takes to his golf course in Florida on Friday
Pomerantz, 69, has long been heralded as a leading figure in New York legal circles, having served as chief of the criminal division in the US Attorney’s Office for SDNY from 1997 to 1999 before moving into private practice with the law firm Paul Weiss.
As a private attorney, Pomerantz has regularly represented major companies and officials in state and federal prosecutions, including cases brought by the US Department of Justice.
He has handled matters involving charges of corporate misconduct, financial fraud, tax crimes and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a federal law used to prosecute organized crime and ongoing criminal activities.
The attorney is credited with helping form the legal definition of racketeering in a RICO case he defended in 1988, according to the New York Times.
Pomerantz launched his career with two impressive clerkships, with Judge Edward Weinfeld in Manhattan and Justice Potter Stewart on the Supreme Court.
He went on to serve as a federal prosecutor for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, where he rose through the ranks to lead the appellate unit.
Pomerantz left the US Attorney’s Office in 1982 for private practice, where he worked on more than two dozen cases involving organized crime at a time when prosecutors dramatically escalated efforts to put Mafia bosses behind bars.
He returned to SDNY in the late 90s to oversee more major organized crime and securities fraud cases, including the prosecution of Gambino boss John A Gotti.
Pomerantz left the SDNY again in 2000 to join Paul Weiss. One of his biggest cases to date was defending then-senator Robert Torricelli (D – New Jersey) against allegations of campaign finance violations in 2002.
His experience in both prosecuting and defending white collar criminals will likely prove invaluable to Vance’s office in its investigation of Trump.
‘He worked both sides of the street, so he’s not going to be biased by virtue of temperament,’ Robert S Litt, a former general counsel for the Director of National Intelligence who has known Pomerantz since the 70s, told the Times.
Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance, said that Pomerantz’ role will be limited to the Trump probe. He is expected to focus on conducting interviews.
The Times noted that Vance’s unusual decision to bring in outside counsel for an investigation highlights how complicated the Trump case is.
The newspaper said Pomerantz, who is taking a leave of absence from his firm, has been assisting in the investigation informally ‘for months’.
Pomerantz is pictured (left) with Frank Quattrone (center), who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for interfering with a federal investigation in 2004. With Pomerantz’ help, the case was dropped
News of Pomerantz’ appointment followed reports that Vance recently issued roughly a dozen new subpoenas in its investigation of Trump, two sources close to the probe told Reuters.
One of the subpoenas went to Ladder Capital Finance LLC, a major creditor used by Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, to finance the former president´s commercial real estate holdings, the sources said.
Vance’s office has also conducted interviews with Ladder’s staff, one source familiar with the matter said. Ladder did not reply to requests for comment.
The district attorney’s office has said little publicly about the probe, but noted in court filings that the investigation was focused on ‘possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct’ at the Trump Organization, including alleged falsification of records, and insurance and tax fraud. It is the only known criminal inquiry into Trump’s business practices.
Separately, New York state Attorney General Letitia James is leading a civil probe into whether Trump’s company falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.
Both investigations are examining whether Trump’s company placed artificially high values on several major commercial properties in documents used to secure favorable loan arrangements, while diminishing the value of those properties in filings used as a basis for calculating its tax bills.
Ladder issued the loans on several of Trump’s big commercial holdings, including a $160million mortgage on the Trump Building, a skyscraper of corporate offices in Manhattan’s financial district.
Vance’s investigation is examining whether Trump’s company placed artificially high values on several major commercial properties in documents used to secure favorable loan arrangements, while diminishing the value of those properties in filings used as a basis for calculating its tax bills. Pictured: Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan
Cohen’s interview on Thursday with Pomerantz – his fifth with Vance’s office – was not previously reported and it is unclear precisely what issues were covered. But it signals intense interest in Cohen’s intimate knowledge of the financial affairs of the Trump Organization.
Cohen declined to comment. A representative for Trump and a lawyer for the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.
In court filings, the Trump Organization has denied that the company inflated assets. Trump, a Republican, has described the New York investigations as politically motivated. Vance and James are both Democrats.
Cohen, who describes himself as Trump’s longtime, do-anything fixer, is in home confinement serving a three-year sentence on charges related to payoffs he made during the 2016 presidential race to buy the silence of two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump.
Under a plea deal, Cohen cooperated extensively with prosecutors – an arrangement that also would help protect him against further prosecution for evidence he provides in the Vance probe.
Vance opened the investigation in 2018 to examine the alleged hush-money payments. The probe has since expanded to include Trump’s conduct as a private business owner and whether the Trump Organization engaged in criminal tax evasion among other charges.
Pomerantz interviewed Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen (pictured) last week
Cohen, a potential high-profile witness for Vance, pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges in the hush-money case, as well as allegations of lying to Congress about negotiations concerning a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, a project that never materialized.
Trump and Republicans in Congress have sought to undermine Cohen´s credibility by underscoring how he lied under oath.
At his sentencing hearing, Cohen said he took ‘full responsibility’ for his actions, but said the payments were made ‘in coordination’ and ‘at the direction’ of Trump in an effort to influence the election’s outcome.
He also said Trump implicitly directed him to lie about the Moscow project. Trump accused Cohen of lying to reduce his prison time.
‘I think Cohen may be more valuable than people are giving him credit for,’ said Daniel Alonso, Vance’s top deputy from 2010 to 2014 and now in private practice.
‘He obviously has committed perjury. He has credibility issues. But the perjury he committed was allegedly at the behest of Donald Trump, at least tacitly. I don’t think that calling Cohen a perjurer ends the story, because that opens the door to the explanation of why he perjured himself.’