Try as they might, the federal courts are failing at keeping developer Felix Sater's shady criminal past a secret.
Sater was a key promoter in the Fort Lauderdale beachfront Trump tower and helped rake in millions to fund the now-abandoned project. A petition from investors to the U.S. Supreme Court says the details of Sater's past ties with mafia figures (and guilty plea in a $40-million stock ripoff) were kept from them -- lawyers say, "illegally."
The Supreme Court documents, obtained by the Miami Herald, reveal Sater's criminal activities were covered up in a deal with New York prosecutors. And now, it seems, everybody knows anyway.
Among the accusations against the guy people trusted with their condo cash: He stabbed a guy in a bar fight with the broken stem of a margarita glass, helped the government track down black-market missiles, informed on mafia figures, and pleaded guilty to a multi-million-dollar investment swindle. He's also accused of telling a condo administrator he could have him killed.
Many of the accusations were outlined In a Herald story last month, based on documents from a civil suit filed on behalf of Trump investors. The civil case was immediately sealed and the lawyer who filed it becoming the target of a federal probe.
The Supreme Court petition released yesterday says Sater's is only one of many federal cases hidden in New York, "creating a covert dual justice system accountable to no one, without public notice." Judges have heavily criticized the lawyers for dumping sealed records into public court filings and endangering witnesses; the lawyers say their clients had a right to know who they were dealing with.
Though it's plenty convoluted, check out the Herald's story for more. Also, you might mosey over to our 2006 cover story about the development, "Chump Tower."