Embattled New York Real Estate Agent Highlights Importance of Performing Due Diligence

At a time of increasing scrutiny of executive-level management positions, a due diligence screening process that is timely, accurate and exceptionally thorough is of top importance. Choosing a low-quality, cookie-cutter background check places your business, employees and reputation in jeopardy of lengthy legal proceedings and public derision. Case in point: Frank Palazzolo, a real estate investor with a history of questionable business dealings, who landed a job as treasurer at President-Elect Trump’s other tower in White Plains.

The condominium discovered that its longtime treasurer Palazzolo has been stealing cash for years, according to a lawsuit filing. The alleged theft is estimated to be around $1.3 million, and has left the Westchester Trump Tower unable to pay for basic maintenance services for its tenants. Frank Palazzolo, who was also named among the city’s worst landlords, covered up his embezzlement with fake accounts, according to a suit filed by the condo board.

The civil racketeering suit continues and says that Palazzolo made off with as much as $8.7 million from Westchester Trump Tower funds before being caught. Access to financial accounts normal for his executive position within the high-rise allowed the landlord to cheat the condo by laundering money through fake accounts. Where did the money go? The suit claims Palazzolo purchased foreclosed properties in Westchester Trump Tower and paid off those who aided the scheme such as some of the building’s other board members. The accused treasurer was ousted from his position in July of 2015, but Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election draws newfound attention to the integrity of his businesses.

Guilty by association is an all too formidable reality – particularly when it comes to high-profile persons and the transgressions of one of their own colleagues. Palazzolo could have easily been caught had the proper vetting and screening process been conducted, as his shady real estate businesses go back years and years. Instead, this New York City landlord with ties to President-Elect Trump stands accused of embezzlement and tenant neglect.

Take a step back for a moment and this story has an almost surreal element to it. If a comprehensive investigation had been completed before Palazzolo was hired, the outcome may have been much different.

For more information about Sterling Diligence (formerly Bishops®) (and our innovative, accurate and timely due diligence services), click here.