New Report Traces Former Trump Executive’s Criminal Past

September 26, 2016
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by Sarah Childress Senior Reporter

Trump Tower in New York on March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

For a decade, Abraham Wallach worked as executive vice president for acquisitions and finance for Donald Trump’s real estate empire.

But during his time with The Trump Organization, Wallach also had a secret second career as a habitual thief. According to court documents, Wallach stole paintings, and used stolen credit cards to buy luxury goods like jewelry and crystal vases, which he sometimes gave as gifts to colleagues, he would later tell The Boston Globe.

Wallach’s criminal background surfaced as early as 1982, before his work for Trump began. The Newark, N.J. Star-Ledger reported that the executive was convicted of possessing seven works of art that had been taken that year from the home of his former neighbors. “There’s no question of my guilt,” the article quoted Wallach as saying. His extensive criminal history was further detailed in a Sept. 26 front-page story in The Boston Globe. The paper found that in the past three decades — before, during and after he worked for Trump — Wallach has been arrested at least 15 times in five states, and has four felony convictions for crimes including forgery, grand larceny and making false statements to prosecutors, according to the Globe’s review of court records.

On the presidential campaign trail, Trump often says that he only hires “the best people.” Trump apparently didn’t know about Wallach’s criminal activity when he hired him — in part because, Wallach says, the executive never told his boss. Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, told the Globe that Trump “was not aware” of Wallach’s criminal background until the last year of his employment, in 2001 or 2002, which Wallach corroborated to the Globe. Trump then told him to stop stealing and seek help, Hicks said. Wallach later left the organization.

The Trump campaign wouldn’t comment on The Trump Organization’s hiring process, according to the Globe, or whether anyone had conducted a background check on Wallach. Hicks told the Globe: “Mr. Trump’s judgment is impeccable.”

Wallach, in an interview with the Globe, said he did not tell Trump about his past when he was hired, and that he offered to resign after his crimes began to catch up with him in 2001 and 2002. In 2002, police discovered Wallach had rung up $4,888.33 worth of goods at Saks Fifth Avenue stores with a credit card that he had stolen from the purse of his sister’s best friend, and was later convicted of his third felony, the Globe reported.

Wallach was interviewed by FRONTLINE for The Choice 2016 to discuss his years working alongside Trump. Wallach said that in 1989, Trump’s business condition was “terrible, worse than terrible.” He added: “We were in a deep recession and people weren’t going to Atlantic City. So the revenue stream from Atlantic City, the Taj Mahal and other casinos was poor.” In 1991, losses at the Taj Mahal forced Trump’s business to file for bankruptcy.

Wallach first met Trump that year, in 1989, after the tycoon slapped Wallach with a $250 million lawsuit for criticizing his business acumen on television. Shortly after that, Wallach said Trump offered him a job handling his real estate acquisitions for The Trump Organization.

Once Wallach left the organization, he continued his criminal activity, according to the Globe, with a forgery conviction in New York, his fourth, and another case in Connecticut. According to court records, the Globe said, Wallach told the Connecticut judge he was seeking help to control his compulsions.

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