A former business partner of President Trump’s company was arrested last week on felony charges of stealing two pieces of luggage from the Memphis airport.
Dinesh Chawla and his brother were partners with the Trump Organization on multiple hotel projects in the Mississippi Delta until earlier this year.
Last year, The New York Times profiled Mr. Chawla, whose father, V. K. Chawla grew up in a refugee camp in Punjab, India, and started the family’s hotel business about three decades ago after seeking the advice of Mr. Trump, then a New York real estate developer.
According to police records, airport security footage recorded Dinesh Chawla on Aug. 18 removing another passenger’s suitcase from a baggage claim carousel and putting it in his car before taking a flight.
The airport police said they searched the car and discovered the suitcase and another piece of luggage that had been taken from the airport a month earlier. Mr. Chawla was arrested when he returned to Memphis on Thursday and that he admitted to stealing the two bags and their contents, valued at about $4,000, according to a police affidavit. The records also said Mr. Chawla had confessed to stealing other luggage “over a long period of time,” but it provided no details of other thefts.
Mr. Chawla told an officer “that he knows stealing luggage is wrong, but he does it for the thrill and excitement,” the records said.
Mr. Chawla, who lives in Cleveland, Miss., declined to comment when reached by email.
The Chawlas had been developing properties that were to include the first of two new Trump hotel brands. In February, the Trumps shelved the new hotel lines, citing a difficult political climate, and amicably parted ways with the Chawlas.
In the months since, Mr. Chawla has continued construction on the biggest of the developments in Cleveland, which is to include a hotel, restaurants and entertainment. He told The Times earlier this summer that he was also working on other deals.