Chicago banker, former Trump adviser Stephen Calk loses fight to move trial here

ByChuck Goudie and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Chicago banker and former Trump adviser Stephen Calk loses fight to move trial here
Chuck Goudie and the ABC7 I-Team report on Chicago banker Stephen Calk who says he is now "unemployed and living off his savings."

As Donald Trump was ramping up his campaign for president in 2016, top Chicago bank executive Stephen Calk was riding a personal and professional wave.

Calk, 55, was the founder and leader of Federal Savings Bank in Chicago's West Loop, an economic adviser to Trump's campaign and a close associate of campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Calk was jockeying for a top administration job and eyeing Secretary of the Army if Trump were to win.

Fast forward almost four years and he now claims to be on the skids-"unemployed and living off his savings"-and is looking at a long and costly federal criminal trial 800 miles away in New York City.

On top of that downward spiral, the once-connected banking industry executive on Wednesday lost a bid to have his federal trial moved from Manhattan to Chicago, a location he called the "nerve center" of the case in court filings and suggested it would be a financial hardship on him to travel back and forth for the proceedings. Calk also claimed that half of the government's forty witnesses are in Chicago and "most, if not all, of the likely defense witnesses."

Calk is facing federal bribery charges, allegedly having approved $16 million in personal loans to Manafort in a quid pro quo deal for a prime position in a Trump administration.

Despite the fact that Calk lives in the Northern District of Illinois, Manhattan federal judge Lorna Schofield has now denied his motion to move the trial to Chicago. Judge Schofield on Wednesday seemed unmoved

by Calk's arguments. "Defendant does not allege that any of the prospective witnesses will be unable to testify in this District or even that they would be significantly inconvenienced by such testimony," Schofield wrote in her decision. "The Government represents that it will pay or reimburse the travel and lodging costs of any witnesses it calls who reside outside the New York area. Based on this information, this factor does not weigh in favor of transfer" she stated.

Judge Schofield, a native of northern Indiana and graduate of Indiana University, found that Calk's contention of Chicago as the "nerve center" of the case is not correct. "Defendant is alleged to have caused the Bank to extend loans to Manafort, who was located in New York, through the Bank's New York office, in part in exchange for a position on the Trump Presidential Campaign, which was based in New York."

Calk has denied the charges and says that the $16 million for Manafort "were sound loans by any objective measure, with terms that were advantageous to the bank, and which were secured by

property and cash collateral amounting to significantly more than the loans themselves." He has filed paperwork claiming that the government "omitted this information from its warrant affidavit."

As the I-Team first reported last November, Calk is alleging a cover-up by prosecutors. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York declined to

comment on the allegations of dirty tricks by federal prosecutors in the Calk case.

Calk's Chicago attorney Jeremy Margolis declined to comment on Wednesday's ruling against moving the trial from New York, telling the I-Team that they will do their speaking in court. The next court date is scheduled for two weeks from Thursday. On top of those legal and travel expenses, Calk's divorce that began in 2014 continues in Cook County. As we reported one year ago his estranged wife subpoenaed the Manafort loan records as part of her divorce effort.

A court date is scheduled in New York for two weeks from tomorrow.