Fred Trump Faces Issues

Fred, Donald, and Mary Trump

Part Two of Two

Fred was considered to be an authoritarian as a parent. He was strict with maintaining curfews. He forbid any cursing, lipstick, or snacks between meals (it seems Fred didn’t have any concerns about telling lies – something Donald certainly learned to do). When he returned home, after his days work, he would receive a report from his wife on the children’s behavior. If required, he would determine any disciplinary actions. He took the children to various building sites. There they collected empty bottles and returned them for monetary deposits. The boys had paper routes. When delivering papers, if the weather conditions were poor, Fred provided a limousine for them to make their deliveries.

It is unclear if Fred was associated in any way with the Ku Klux Klan. In 1927, there was a “fascist” brawl in the Bronx. Two men were killed. Approximately 1,000 white-robed Klansmen marched through the Jamaican neighborhood. Eventually, an all-out brawl broke loose, and seven men were arrested. Fred Trump was one of those arrested. Joseph Warren, the former New York Police Commissioner, said the Klansmen wore gowns and hoods covering their faces. Fred was represented by the same lawyer as the six other men. His case was discharged. He was the only one of the seven not to be charged with a criminal offense. Although some people say Fred was not involved with the KKK, the arrest record indicated that Fred Trump, a resident of 175-24 Devonshire Road, was the same person who was arrested. In fairness, other reports indicated that the seven were called “avowed Klansmen.” Also, different reports indicated that Fred “might” have been wearing a KKK robe. One report called into question whether Fred Trump was a KKK marcher or a local spectator. Finally, another report indicated there was not sufficient documentation to show Trump was participating. President Trump has vehemently denied that his father had ever been arrested.

During World War ll and until the 1980s, Fred Trump denied that he spoke German. He claimed he was of Swedish origin. This was because he had many Jewish tenants, and it was not a good thing to be German in those days, according to his nephew, John Walter. Donald has said that his father was an immigrant from Sweden and born in New Jersey. Records indicate Fred was born in New York City in the United States.

Fred faced some run-ins with the government through the years. In 1954 he was included on a list of 35 city builders accused of profiteering from government contracts. A U.S. Senate Banking committee investigated him, as well as others on the list for windfall gains. Trump, with his partner William Tomasello (who previously had ties with the mafia), were used as examples of how builders made profits. When the transactions were said and done, the two business partners obtained government loans for $3.5 million more than their Beach Haven apartments had cost. 

Trump was once again investigated in 1966 for windfall profiteering. This investigation took place by New York’s State Investigation Commission. It seems he overestimated some building costs sponsored by a state program. As a result, he netted $598,000 on equipment rentals during the construction of Trump Village. Under testimony, Trump said that he had personally done nothing wrong. He continued by praising the success of his building project. The commission, however, called Trump “a pretty shrewd character.” No indictments were made against Trump.

In 1968 Donald Trump joined his dad at Trump Management Company. In three years, he rose to the top, becoming the company president. A few years later, Donald received loans from his dad, which exceeded $14 million, although Donald later claimed the loans totaled just $1 million. The money opened the door for Donald to enter the real estate business in Manhattan. In the late 1970’s Donald refurbished the Grand Hyatt New York. His dad chipped in $2 million to assist in paying the construction loan. His dad also gave Donald a $35 million line of credit as well as a $30 million mortgage. He also gave him an additional corporate loan.

In 1972 and 1973, the Trump team faced complaints from minority applicants who had been turned away from renting apartments owned by the Trumps. The New York City Commission on Human Rights and the Urban League, along with other groups, sent test applicants to their properties. They determined that whites were offered apartments. Blacks were generally turned away. This led the Justice Department to become involved. In 1973 the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil rights suit against the Trumps for disobeying the Fair Housing Act. The Trumps’ attorney, Roy Cohn, countersued for $100 million charging the DOJ for alleged false accusations. Later a rental agent said that Fred Trump had instructed him “not to rent to blacks.” He also instructed his agent to “decrease the number of black tenants by encouraging them to locate housing elsewhere.” The case was settled, and both sides claimed victory. The DOJ said the decree was “one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated.” As a result, it personally and corporately prohibited the Trumps from “discriminating against any person in the …sale or rental of a dwelling.” It required the Trumps to advertise vacancies in minority papers and other media. It also ordered the Trumps to “thoroughly acquaint themselves personally on a detailed basis with…the Fair Housing Act of 1968.:

The Trump team continued to build its real estate empire. They faced issues with the Commission on Human Rights and the Urban League. At one point, a county judge ordered Fred to correct code violations at his 504-unit Seat Pleasant apartment complex. The investigator said violations such as broken windows, dilapidated gutters, missing fire extinguishers, and so forth were reported. After numerous phone calls to Fred, he was invited to the property to meet with county officials in September 1976. He was arrested on-site and then released on a $1,000 bail. 

Fred accumulated a fortune during his lifetime. He appeared on the initial Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans in 1982. His worth was estimated at $200 million, which he shared with Donald. In 2018 The New York Times reviewed more than 100,000 pages of tax returns and financial records of the Trump organization. The newspaper indicated that Donald was a millionaire at age 8. The son had received $413 million (adjusted for inflation) from Fred’s business empire. The newspaper said Fred loaned at least $60 million to Donald, who failed to reimburse him. 

Fred and Mary remained together until his death. He had Alzheimer’s disease during his last six years of life. In June 1999, he developed pneumonia. He was admitted to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, where he died at age 93. Mary died the following summer at age 88.