Hundreds of former employees and business associates say that former reality TV star and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a grifter and a deadbeat who never paid them for their work.
According to USA Today, Trump has left a trail of broken promises and debts in his wake over the years as a result of his long string of failed businesses, multiple bankruptcies and a cavalier attitude regarding his obligations to others.
"Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will 'protect your job.'" said the newspaper. "But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades -- and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them."
The article tells the story of people like Philadelphia cabinet-builder Edward Friel Jr., who performed $83,600 worth of work building "bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars and other cabinets at Harrah's at Trump Plaza."
Friel submitted an invoice in 1984 and it was never paid. The missing revenue crippled the family business and ultimately resulted in the end of the Edward J. Friel Company, destroying what the Friel family took generations to build.
USA Today said that more than 60 lawsuits and a blizzard of judgments, liens and other filings are from a wide array of Trump employees who are all waiting to be paid for their work.
"Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others," the paper said.
Trump companies have been cited on 24 violations of the 2005's Fair Labor Act by failing to pay overtime or minimum wage. The purported billionaire has been served with more than 200 mechanic's liens filed by contractors and employees, ranging from "a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm."
Trump has made of habit of stiffing small businesses and suppliers over the years and then simply financially exhausting them in court or waiting until the financial wounds he inflicted on them drive them out of business.
Edward Friel's son Paul told USA Today that his father's company filed for bankruptcy after five years of battling Trump and his lawyers, but that his family's experience is hardly unique.
"There’s tons of these stories out there,” he said. "Trump hits everybody."