A Delaware man who once crossed paths with the billionaire over a disagreement about the financial viability of Trump’s Taj Mahal casino property and ultimately lost his job in the exchange now looks back on the incident with a sense of humour and disbelief.
“In a way I owe Donald Trump a lot because he forced me into a new career that turned out well,” Marvin Roffman said in a phone interview with Barron’s. “But that doesn’t excuse the hell he subjected me to in 1990, sliming my reputation so much that I got fired and couldn’t find another job as an analyst. He acted viciously towards me because, I guess, he felt that I had personally attacked his brand. His image is all-important to him.”
Roffman was a gaming-securities analyst in the early 1990s with Janney Montgomery Scott, a Philadelphia-based brokerage house. His crime was that he came out with an extremely negative report about Trump’s new Taj Mahal casino just as it was about to open in Atlantic City.
Previous to that report Roffman expressed reservations about the funding Trump had gotten for the Taj – $675 million in junk bonds at 14% -- and his ability to be able to repay the bonds. Roffman went as far as to warn bondholders that they should sell immediately. In October 1990 the Taj Mahal defaulted on its very first interest payment driving the price of the bonds into the low 20s and forcing the casino into bankruptcy the following spring.
The damning article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on March 21, 1990; it was the beginning of the end for Roffman.
Trump sent a scathing letter to his employer threatening a major lawsuit if they didn’t put things right. Janney drafted a letter of apology to Trump to be signed by Roffman that apparently groveled for the billionaire’s forgiveness. Given Roffman’s view of the casino industry at that point in time he couldn’t in good conscience apologize for telling the truth.
The very next day his lawyer sent a retraction letter to Trump and immediately he was fired by Janney after 30 years working as a securities analyst.
Unable to get another job as an analyst, Roffman became a financial advisor. The rest as they say is history.