Federal judge unseals records in criminal case of long-time Trump associate Felix Sater
Moscow-born Felix Sater, an associate of President Donald Trump and real estate developer with ties to Russian organized crime, is mentioned numerous times in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report for the Russian investigation. And on Monday, according to The Intercept, a federal judge ordered the unsealing of court records from Sater’s criminal case of the 1990s.
The federal judge is Leo Glasser, and the case is the Eastern District of New York v. Felix Sater. Glasser was the judge in that case, which came long before the Mueller investigation: in 1998, Sater pled guilty to his involvement in a $40 million stock fraud scheme tied to the Russian mafia. And Sater, after that, became an informant for the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), assisting the DOJ in organized crime investigations. Because of his cooperation with the DOJ, Sater didn’t go to prison but was fined $25,000.
Sater, now 53, is mentioned in the Mueller report in connection with his efforts to broker a Trump Tower Moscow deal in 2015/2016 with attorney Michael Cohen (who was still working for the Trump Organization at the time). Cohen is presently serving three years in federal prison for crimes ranging from campaign finance violations to bank and tax fraud.
Glasser, according to The Intercept, “ordered that one document” from Sater’s 1990s criminal case that was “requested by The Intercept remain under seal, while several others were unsealed with redactions.”
Interest in the Eastern District of New York v. Felix Sater, Glasser wrote this week, has “mushroomed” because of Sater’s connection to the Trump Organization. Glasser noted, “The court does not for one moment minimize the want to gather information about Sater and the president. However, among the materials that will remain under seal, there is not a jot or tittle that mentions the president in relation to Sater.”
The documents in the Eastern District of New York v. Felix Sater, Glasser stressed, pertain “solely to Sater’s prior conviction, the assistance that he provided the government in the investigation and prosecution of other matters, proceedings in this court seeking to prevent disclosure of that cooperation, and prior unsealing motions.”
The Intercept’s Johnny Dwyer notes that during Mueller’s investigation, Sater “was a kind of golden goose — the rare informant who could provide tips on Russian and Italian mobsters and al-Qaeda.”
During the 2000s, Sater worked closely with the Trump Organization during the construction of the Trump SoHo (now the Dominick) in Manhattan. And he has worked with the Trump Organization on many other real estate projects as well.