Robert LiButti, top left, and Donald Trump. (Illustration: Yahoo News; sources: state of New Jersey, William Thomas Cain/Getty Images, Ron Galella/Getty Images)
The daughter of a reputed New Jersey mob figure says her late father had a longtime relationship with Donald Trump that included gambling millions of dollars at one of his casinos, flying on his helicopter and partying aboard his private yacht.
In 1991, Trump first faced questions about his dealings with Robert LiButti, a plump, balding and nationally famous horse breeder with an explosive temper who would later be banned from New Jersey casinos for his ties to Mafia boss John Gotti. At the time, New Jersey state regulators had launched an investigation into allegations by nine employees of one of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos, the Trump Plaza, that the hotel had repeatedly removed African-Americans and women from craps tables after LiButti, one of the highest-rolling gamblers in the city’s history, loudly complained about their presence when he was playing.
The probe resulted in a $200,000 fine against the Trump Plaza by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for violating state anti-discrimination laws. Investigators found that LiButti had, on multiple occasions, berated blacks and women using what one state official described as the “vilest” language — including racist slurs and references to women in obscene terms — and that the Trump Plaza, in order not to lose his substantial business, sought to accommodate him by keeping the employees away from his betting tables, according to commission documents recently obtained by Yahoo News under the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.
“It was a substantial fine at the time,” said Mitchell A. Schwefel, then a New Jersey assistant attorney general who brought the state’s case against the Trump Plaza on behalf of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. “That was a red-flag issue for us because that was conduct [by the hotel] that was not going to be tolerated.”