Speed Reads

Trump Trouble

Trump's ex-bodyguard Matthew Calamari has lawyered up, on New York prosecutors' advice

New York prosecutors investigating former President Donald Trump's business have advised Trump's former bodyguard and current chief operating officer, Matthew Calamari, and his son that they should get their own lawyers, not use the Trump Organization's attorneys, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Prosecutors are reportedly looking into whether the Calamaris have illegally avoided paying taxes on benefits provided by the Trump Organization, including housing and cars.

New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has been investigating the Trump Organization for a few years, focused most recently on whether the company manipulates the value of its properties to get loans and lower its taxes. Vance's prosecutors are similarly investigating, and widely believed to be trying to gain the cooperation of, Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, but they don't appear to have had much luck yet. Now it appears their interest in these benefits extends beyond Weisselberg, the Journal reports, noting that neither Calamari or Weisselberg have been accused of wrongdoing. 

The Calamaris have taken the prosecutors' advice and hired Nicholas Gravante Jr., who has represented former AIG head Maurice "Hank" Greenberg and Hunter Biden, among other prominent clients, the Journal reports

The senior Calamari has worked for the Trump Organization for decades, starting as Trump's bodyguard in 1981. He is believed to know the details of the company's alleged property value inflation and under-reporting. His son, Matthew Calamari Jr., joined the Trump Organization's security team in 2011, the same year he graduated from high school, and was named corporate director of security in 2017. 

The Calamaris live in different luxury Trump apartment buildings on Central Park, the Journal reports. Barry Weisselberg, Allen Weiselberg's son and another Trump Organization employee, lived in the same building as Matthew Calamari Jr., he said in a 2018 deposition for his divorce, testifying that "it was a corporate apartment, so we didn't have rent."

"Receiving benefits — such as free apartments, subsidized rent or car leases — from an employer, and not paying taxes on such benefits, can be a crime," the Journal reports, "although experts said prosecutors rarely bring cases on such perks alone."