Presidential contender Donald Trump, who has vowed to stanch the flow of narcotics and criminals entering the U.S. from Mexico, once wrote to a judge urging leniency for a friend who was convicted of distributing kilos of cocaine that had been smuggled into the country from Colombia, court records show.
In advance of Joseph Weichselbaum’s November 1987 sentencing by a U.S. District Court judge, Trump wrote that the drug trafficker was “conscientious, forthright, diligent and a credit to the community.”
At the time Trump wrote his character reference letter, Weichselbaum, then in his mid-40s, was already a twice-convicted felon. In addition to his 1986 plea to federal cocaine distribution and income tax charges, Weichselbaum’s rap sheet included prior convictions for grand theft auto and the embezzlement of more than $130,000 from a Brooklyn manufacturing firm where he worked for a decade.
Weichselbaum, who peddled drugs and palled around with wiseguys, seemed an odd choice for Trump to publicly embrace. Especially since the developer–who has never been known for empathetic gestures–owned casinos monitored by New Jersey regulators on the alert for licensees who maintained business or personal relationships with unsavory types.
In a court filing that referred to the laudatory correspondence sent by Trump and other Weichselbaum cronies, a federal prosecutor mocked the letters. Weichselbaum, the government lawyer wrote, used his friends to vouch for his redeeming qualities and claim that his criminal activities were a one-time aberration and “totally out of his character.” These friends, prosecutor Ann Marie Tracey sneered, apparently were “unaware of defendant’s previous convictions and his extensive drug dealings.” Weichselbaum, the prosecutor noted in another filing, “was a felon even before becoming a drug dealer.” (Read more from “Trump Vouched for Cocaine Trafficker” HERE)