In the first of two trials, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty in August on eight of 18 counts of fraud. All that kept him from being found guilty on all 18 counts was a lone juror.
The “witch hunt” had found another witch. Not eager for a potentially worse repeat at his upcoming second trial, Manafort cut a deal with the feds pleading guilty (admitting his witchcraft) and agreeing to surrender a bunch of assets including some real estate some are valuing at $22 million.
In a “birds of a feather” twist, Manafort’s spec builder son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai filed for bankruptcy in 2016 as four multi-million dollar (unsold) spec homes fell into foreclosure. The whole affair also ignited lawsuits by Dustin Hoffman and others claiming Yohai was running a Ponzi scheme. No stranger to legal troubles, Yohai and wife Jessica Manafort were sued for running an illegal Airbnb operation from their three New York apartments – in the middle of divorce proceedings.
But hey, it’s easy to get lost down a rat hole, let’s just concentrate on what the elder Manafort is forfeiting …
174 Jobs Lane, Water Mill, New York
Built in 2001, this 10 bedroom, six bathroom home comprises 5,574 square feet on 2.37 acres. It’s located on the far eastern end of Long Island near Bridgehampton and Sagaponack adjacent to Mecox Bay. It’s essentially a “flag lot” off of Jobs Lane and one house back from an inlet to the Bay and a short drive from the ocean. The neighborhood is as expected with estates dotted up and down main roads and private lanes. It’s also surprisingly interspersed with multiple small farms – likely fresh vegetable and fruit for the summer crowd. The 2.37 acres contain a putting green with sand trap (perhaps its future owner will christen it the Mueller trap), pool, gardens and tennis and basketball courts.
Unsurprisingly, the numbers don’t add up. The house had an assessed value in 2014 of $5.284 million which rose to $5.844 million this year. Yet, the feds have detailed $6 million in supposed improvements to the home. A cursory glance tells me the $6 million didn’t go into the house unless it was for improvements no one else would pay a dime for or that the county tax assessor knew nothing about.
A subpoena’s throw from Manafort’s estate is 148 Jobs Lane currently listed for $5.9 million (last sold in 2014 for $3.6 million). Built in 2003, it’s a five-bedroom home with four full bathrooms and one-half bathroom comprising 3,500 square feet. It rests on a pinch over an acre of land backing up to one of the small area farms (looks like Christmas trees). In fact, given the similar age of surrounding homes, I’d guess one of the small farms became smaller when land was sold around the turn of the century.
If the government has a problem shifting the Jobs Lane home, the summer rental market seems quite tasty with properties renting from $24,000 to $165,000 per month.
721 Fifth Avenue, New York
Manafort’s main Manhattan home, also forfeited, is unit 43G in Trump Tower on 5th Avenue and 47th Street. The 1,509 square foot unit is located on the northwest corner of the building offering views up and down 5th Avenue from Central Park to as far south as visibility allows. Manafort bought the unit in 2006 for $3.675 million. Zillow calls it $3 million while upstairs neighbor 44G is asking $4 million.
377 Union Street, Brooklyn NY
Over in Brooklyn, Manafort had purchased 377 Union Street in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood for $2.9 million in 2012 paying full asking in cash (later taking a $6.5 million loan against the property). He planned to turn the three apartments into a 4,400 square foot single-family home for his daughter Jessica and husband Jeffrey Yohai (even though they’d moved to California). Reports say the neighbors will be thrilled when the home is sold. They’ve complained that for four years the home has unkempt and either vacant or under construction. Some estimates place the value at $4 million but it really depends on what’s behind the front door. Is it a shell or a finished home?
29 Howard Street, New York
A two bedroom, two bathroom unit with 2,500 square feet. It has the clumsy layout of an older building repurposed into something it wasn’t supposed to be. Two very large living areas with tiny bedrooms and their equally tiny closets. At 2,500 square feet, the conversion could have been done better.
The condo appears currently rented, but its last asking rent was $14,200 per month, furnished. Although others are reporting it has been rented on Airbnb for up to $500 per night. Essentially, it’s bodies in beds, regardless of how long they stay. Oh, and when Manafort purchased the Brooklyn brownstone in 2012, this is where daughter Jessica and husband Jeffery Yohai were living before moving to California.
1046 N. Edgewood Street, Arlington, VA
Varying reports list this home in the forfeiture while others report it was later traded for the Trump Tower condo. Either way, this property certainly doesn’t have any of the historic charm of the other properties, but is instead more of an east coast tract home. Its four bedrooms, with two full and one half bathroom comprising 2,828 square feet. Zillow places it at about $1.7 million.
But what of Mrs. Manafort you ask? According to her husband’s lawyer, Kevin Dowling, the deal was cut in part because he “wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life.”
10 Saint James Drive, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
This Florida home isn’t listed in the guilty plea and forfeiture. Is this where Mrs. Manafort will live? Built in 1991 and purchased by the Manafort’s in 2007 for $1.5 million and today has an estimated value of $1.150 million. The 4,050 square foot home has three bedrooms and a generous five bathrooms. Stylistically, it’s the same Mediterranean stucco seen throughout Florida.
The 2007 listing pictures show the home had all the charm of a Golden Girls rerun with beige everything and high-relief tray ceilings. All rooms on the back of the home lead out to the screened pool (it’s Florida, there are bugs). Also, the home backs onto one of the canals that pockmark southeast Florida, so the screening may deter certain scaled wildlife.
Obviousaside, asset seizures like this one are used to pay for the government’s legal bills. While the cost of the Mueller investigation are obviously in the millions of dollars, it look like the US taxpayer could see a profit in addition to rooting out the witches.
Remember: When I’m not stirring up trouble in Dallas, Texas or Honolulu, Hawaii for Candysdirt.com and SecondShelters.com, I’m off scouting interesting locations for a second home. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. If you’re a Realtor with second home clients who’d like me to feature their journey, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.