Complaints Filed Against Donald Trump and Pamela Bondi



On December 23, 2016 Florida Governor Richard Scott quietly assigned State Attorney Stephen Russell to investigate a criminal bribery complaint against Donald Trump and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The investigation was triggered by a complaint filed by J. Whitfield Larrabee on August 1, 2016  with State Attorney Mark Ober in Tampa.  Ober referred this complaint to Governor Scott for assignment to a different State Attorney, asserting that he had a conflict of interest because he knew Bondi well from the many years she worked as a prosecutor in his office.  Due to the delay of Florida officials, Trump may have escaped criminal responsibility for bribery under Florida law based on the Florida statute of limitations.  Bondi may yet be charged with bribery under Florida law.   She is subject to a longer statute of limitations for criminal acts perpetrated in the course of her public employment.

On August 4, 2016, J. Whitfield Larrabee filed an Information Referral and Complaint with the United States Internal Revenue Service against Donald Trump and The Trump Organization concerning failure to report income and failure to pay income taxes.  An information referral, IRS Form 3949-A, is the process provided for under the Internal Revenue Code and regulations for reporting suspected tax law violations by individuals or businesses.  The complaint filed by Larrabee identifies several areas of likely tax law violations.   First, the complaint alleges failure to report $25,000 in income for the 2013 tax year related to illegal payments made on Trump’s behalf to Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi.  The complaint also identifies $5.4 million dollars in unreported income during the 2010 to 2013 tax years.  This income related to gains realized by Trump and the Trump Organization based on the failure of the Texas Attorney General to pursue litigation related to Trump University in exchange for the payment of a $35,000 “campaign contribution.”  Finally, based on detailed evidence of Trump’s extensive involvement with individuals and groups engaged in organized crime, the complaint requests the IRS to investigate whether Trump has failed to report and pay taxes on income derived from organized criminal activity.

On June 29, 2016, Larrabee filed complaints against Donald Trump and Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi with United States officials in New York, Florida and Washington, DC.  Larrabee alleged in these complaints that there was probable cause to indict Trump and Bondi based on Trump’s payment of $25,000 to Bondi’s political committee.  The complaint sets forth evidence showing that the payment was made in exchange for Bondi’s official actions, in dropping an investigation of Trump University, an for her decision not to litigate against Trump and Trump University.  These complaints are concerned with violations of federal anti-bribery laws, including the Travel Act and other laws prohibiting mail fraud, wire fraud, and criminal conspiracy.

On June 29, 2016, Larrabee also filed a complaint against Trump, The Donald J. Trump Foundation, and Bondi with the Attorney General for the State of New York. This complaint is concerned with felony violations of the New York State Penal Code, which prohibits both the giving of a bribe to a public servant and the receiving of bribe by a public servant. The complaint also concerns the misappropriation and conversion of funds belonging to the Trump Foundation.  After this complaint was filed, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman initiated an investigation and ordered the Trump Foundation to immediately stop soliciting charitable donations in the state.  An investigation led by Washington Post Reporter David Fahrenthold uncovered other illegal activities related to The Donald J. Trump Foundation, including illegal self dealing.   In one case, Trump used $20,000 from the Trump Foundation to by a portrait of himself.  He also used money from the Trump Foundation, that was donated by other people, to settle legal disputes involving his private for profit ventures.   In these cases, Trump illegally used $258,000 from the charity for his own benefit.  The New York investigation is still underway.  This investigation could result in criminal charges against Trump and Bondi, including charges for bribery under New York law.

On June 7, 2016, Larrabee filed complaints against Bondi with the Florida Division of Elections, the Florida Ethics Commission and the Florida Bar related to Trump’s $25,000 payment to Bondi’s political committee. While Florida administrative agencies have authority in some instances to impose fines and other civil penalties, a criminal investigation is outside of their jurisdiction.  The complaint to the Florida Ethics Commission is active and presently under investigation.  The Florida Supreme Court has determined that the Attorney General is not subject to the disciplinary rules of the Florida Bar so long as she is in office.  Accordingly, the Florida Bar dismissed the complaint as premature.  The complaint filed with the Florida Division of Elections was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.