Trump Accuses Tribe, Developer of Scam - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

Billionaire Donald Trump, self-proclaimed master of the deal, says he was bamboozled in a business transaction involving the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

"The best-selling author, real estate titan and host of NBC's The Apprentice has sued a former business partner and the Hard Rock's developer, seeking 'substantial' damages.

"???At the core of the case is a dispute over whether a former Trump business associate, Richard Fields, cheated The Donald, or merely outsmarted him. In his lawsuit filed late last year, Trump claims the Trump name was bandied about by Fields as a way of landing the development deal with the tribe, which was then consummated with Cordish not Trump.

"In an interview with The Herald, the tribe's disgruntled former Chairman James Billie, says he, as well as other tribal leaders, believed Trump was party to the talks `right up to the end.'

"???According to the lawsuit, Fields spent three years -- 1996 through 1999 -- negotiating with the Seminoles, allegedly telling Trump that a deal could not be made. He stopped working for Trump shortly afterward, the suit contends, and joined The Cordish Co. in 2000, working with Joseph Weinberg, the company's vice president.

"Within a matter of months, Fields and Weinberg negotiated a deal with the Seminoles to build casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, according to the suit.

"Trump says he didn't know of Fields' involvement in the deal ultimately struck with the Seminoles until Fields was photographed at the 2001 groundbreaking.

"???Trump, whose Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts in Atlantic City recently emerged out of bankruptcy protection, has never successfully negotiated a deal with an American Indian tribe???"

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