Before Michael Cohen made getting Donald Trump elected president his raison d’être, he was planning to become a developer.
With investment partners, Trump’s former attorney and fixer bought a partially rent-stabilized rental building at 330 East 63rd Street for $58 million, with plans to convert the 90 apartments into condominiums, The Real Deal reported in February of 2015.
But three-and-a-half years later those plans have not advanced very far. Though city Department of Buildings filings show significant renovation work in several units over the last couple of years, the partners never filed an offering plan. Of the 32 units that were rent regulated at the time Cohen bought the building, 28 remain so, according to city property tax records. The developers last year described the building as still under construction in a tax appeal with the city.
USA Today previously reported that Brooklyn lawyer Herbert Chaves is one of Cohen’s partners in 330 East 63rd. Property records show that an additional partner is the Vintage Group. Vintage Group’s Eric Nelson did not respond to a request for comment. Cohen did not respond to questions sent by email.
On Tuesday, Cohen pleaded guilty to felony counts of illegal campaign finance, bank fraud and tax evasion and could spend as many as five years in prison. Both the New York Attorney General and the Manhattan District attorney have now opened their own investigations into Cohen and his former employer, the Trump Organization.
According to federal prosecutors, Cohen used “sham invoices” to bill the Trump Organization $420,000 for hush money payments Cohen said he made to two women who threatened to speak publicly about having sexual relations with Trump.
On Tuesday, just before he pleaded guilty, records began popping up in city records indicating Cohen was selling partial interests in 330 East 63rd Street and in another building at 133 Avenue D for a total of $12.9 million. Should he be sentenced to time in prison, Cohen leaves behind whatever interests he still holds in those buildings, plus his home at 502 Park Avenue and a $6.3 million condo at 111 Murray Street. Federal prosecutors say they will pursue property forfeiture in connection with one of the bank fraud counts that involved both tax medallions and Cohen’s Park Avenue home, but its not yet clear whether the property they will seize is cash, real estate or other assets in connection with that crime.