Chera was also friends with President Donald Trump.
Trump called out Chera at a 2019 rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, describing him as “one of the biggest builders and real estate people in the world.”
“And he’s a great guy and he’s been with me from the beginning,” Trump said of Chera.
Trump last month described a friend who was battling the “viciousness” of coronavirus and falling into a coma.
It is now believed Chera was the specific individual Trump was describing. The facts of Chera’s illness match what Trump described.
“We thought they were going in for a mild stay, and in one case, he’s unconscious, in a coma,” Trump also said. “And you say, how did that happen?”
Trump later said he had “some friends that are unbelievably sick” from it. It is not known what other friends Trump may have been referencing.
The White House has not responded to requests for comment regarding Trump’s description of the friend, his friendship with Chera or on Chera’s death.
Chera’s family has not publicly discussed the friendship with the President or Chera’s death.
While Chera was known in New York as a real estate and business titan, he also was a philanthropist who funded causes like soup kitchens, the source who confirmed Chera’s death told CNN. His ultimate philanthropic passion was aid for special needs children, the source said.
Chera was a co-founder of the nonprofit Sephardic Community Center in Brooklyn.
He “was a very special man, loved by all,” the community center said in a statement. “His devotion to so many of our community institutions is unmatched.”
–CNN’s Amir Vera and Claire Colbert contributed to this report.