PALM BEACH — President-elect Donald Trump gave New Year’s Eve remarks while standing next to a man who reportedly pleaded guilty to a felony count of possessing stolen property in 1989.
The New York Daily News and other outlets are highlighting a Palm Beach Daily News video that shows a tuxedoed Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club standing next to American Academy of Hospitality Sciences CEO Joseph Cinque.
Cinque’s New York-based organization gives “Star Diamond Awards” to hotels and resorts, including several Trump properties. Trump as recently as 2015 was listed as an “ambassador extraordinaire” for the academy.
An Associated Press article in May said Cinque, also known as “Joey No Socks,” pleaded guilty a felony in 1989 “after police broke down the door of his Manhattan apartment and found a trove of valuable stolen art, including prints by Marc Chagall.”
A 1995 New York Magazine article said Cinque “used to be friends with John Gotti” — the former boss of the Gambino crime family. In the article, Cinque described the felony conviction as a “mistake.” Cinque could not be reached today.
The 2016 AP article highlighted Cinque’s connections to Trump. Trump said in the article that he did not know Cinque well and was not aware of his felony conviction.
“If a guy’s going to give you an award, you take it,” Trump told the AP. “You don’t tend to look up his whole life story.”
Mar-a-Lago Club member Robin Bernstein said she has known Cinque for about 10 years and said: “I think whatever’s in the past is in the past. He’s been a good egg as long as I’ve known him.”