Source: NY Daily News
FBI wiretapped Russian gambling ring headquartered at Trump Tower for two years
The Feds were monitoring Russian activity at Trump Tower — but it was years before President Trump ever ran for office.
The FBI had a court-sanctioned warrant from 2011 to 2013 to monitor a Russian crime organization working out of a unit three floors below President Trump’s penthouse, according to an ABC News report.
Listening in on the Russians’ happenings resulted in more than 30 people being indicted in April 2013, with federal agents raiding the Trump Tower apartment. But the mastermind, Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov, got away and has since fled the United States justice system.
Emergence of the Russian gambling wiretap comes as President Trump claims his own residence at Trump Tower was bugged at the direction of President Obama, but the intelligence community says there’s no evidence to back that up.
Months after the 2013 raid, ABC News notes, Tokhtakhunov was in the VIP section of Miss Universe Moscow not far from President Trump. The President had previously sold the rights to the Russian incarnation of the show to a billionaire developer based in the country.
“He is a major player,” Mike Gaeta, lead agent on the FBI investigation, said of Tokhtakhunov in 2014. “He is prominent, he has extremely good connections in the business world as well as the criminal world, overseas, in Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, other countries.”
Tokhtakhunov is accused of having run a major gambling ring — headquartered out of unit 63A of Trump Tower — that saw $50 million of illegal money come into the U.S., according to ABC News.
He’s no stranger to the law’s radar, either. Tokhtakhunov was previously indicted for trying to fix figure-skating competitions at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The President wasn’t named in the investigation, but his flagship skyscraper was under heavy surveillance.
Just a few floors below Trump’s home, ABC reported, prosecutors said there was an “international money laundering, sports gambling and extortion ring.”
Vadim Trincher, a Russian businessman and power player, lived in the 63rd-floor unit, and was sentenced to five years in jail for his illegal happenings at the tower.
“He would have people come in and meet with them,” said ABC News consultant and ex-FBI agent Rich Frankel. “He would use the phones … His base of operations was in the Trump Tower.”
Trump’s claim earlier this month that President Obama tapped his own residence in the months before the 2016 elections has proved to not be as successful.
National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and FBI Director James Comey both testified before the House Intelligence Committee that there was no evidence the President’s home was secretly monitored in the lead up to last year’s election.
Last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited a Fox News commentator’s claim that British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters carried out the surveillance of Trump’s home before the election, causing Great Britain to take offense. Despite reports in British media that the White House apologized for the statement, officials dismissed that notion, saying they merely spoke to British authorities about it.