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Trump Fined $10K for Missing Hearing on Selling Swag in Public Space

By  Kathleen Culliton and Aidan Gardiner | June 23, 2016 3:53pm 

 Trump Tower staff removed the offending sales counter, left, but as of Thursday had yet to replace the bench they'd taken away to make room for it.
Trump Tower staff removed the offending sales counter, left, but as of Thursday had yet to replace the bench they'd taken away to make room for it.
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DNAinfo/Noah Hurowitz and John Santore

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Donald Trump was fined $10,000 for skipping a hearing Thursday to determine whether he violated an agreement with the city by using public space to sell campaign merchandise.

The Department of Buildings cited Trump Tower, located at 725 Fifth Ave., in July 2015, claiming a kiosk the presumptive Republican presidential candidate set up in the lobby went against an agreement to keep the space clear to pedestrians in exchange for allowing him to build an additional 200,000 square feet to the tower.

The building's owner, Trump Tower Commercial, LLC, removed a 22-foot-long bench and installed the souvenir stand. The DOB found out in 2015 and issued two violations since then along with thousands of dollars in fines.

Trump's lawyers were scheduled to appear at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings office Thursday morning make arguments against the violations, but because they never arrived, the city hearing officer found them in violation and ruled Trump owes them $10,000, OATH spokeswoman Marisa Senigo. 

Trump has 45 days to reschedule the new hearing, Senigo said. If Trump does nothing in 60 days, the case will be taken up by the Department of Finance, which will start charging 9 percent interest every year, officials said.

The DOB first issued a violation against Trump Tower last July for the missing bench and kiosks selling swag in the lobby, records show.

One of the sales counters was removed, but the DOB cited the tower owners again in March for the remaining one, which measured about 40 feet by 6 feet, records show, and the still-absent bench. 

Trump officials paid a $4,000 fine for the July violation, but hadn't yet paid the additional $4,030 fine they were slapped with in March, according to DOB records. The Thursday fine of $10,000 includes the March penalty, officials said.

In May, Trump officials filed a Certificate of Correction, saying they had fixed the problem by removing both sales counters, officials said. The city, however, upheld the violation because the lobby was still missing its bench.

As of Thursday afternoon, Trump Tower hadn't replaced the bench, but moved the merchandise to a lower level where they still sell red "Make America Great Again" hats for $30.

Trump's attorney Michael Cohen wrote in an emailed statement that Trump Tower representatives didn't appear in court because of a scheduling error, that they planned to schedule another hearing, and that they would provide evidence of compliance.

Additional reporting by Noah Hurowitz.

Department of Buildings Give Violation to Trump Tower About Lobby Kiosk by DNAinfoNewYork