Donald Trump Found Liable for Fraud in New York Civil Case – A New York judge, in a strongly worded decision on Tuesday, ruled that Donald Trump engaged in fraudulent activities over the years while constructing his real estate empire, which ultimately propelled him to fame and the White House.
Judge Arthur Engoron determined that Trump, along with executives from his company, including his sons Eric and Donald Jr, consistently and frequently misled banks, insurers, and other parties by significantly inflating the value of assets and exaggerating his financial worth on various documents. Judge Arthur Engoron’s decision was issued in response to a civil lawsuit initiated by Letitia James, the Attorney General of New York.
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This legal action was filed shortly before the commencement of a non-jury trial, where allegations assert that Trump and the Trump Organization engaged in a ten-year-long deception regarding the valuation of assets and Trump’s financial standing in order to secure more favorable terms for bank loans and insurance. “The documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business,” Engoron wrote.
James has said Trump had effectively engaged in a “bait and switch” operation, inflating his net worth by as much as $2.23bn, and by one measure as much as $3.6bn, on annual financial statements given to banks and insurers. In the lawsuit filed by Letitia James in September 2022, it was alleged that the values of assets such as Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower, and various office buildings and golf courses were artificially inflated.
Alina Habba, Trump’s general counsel, described the Trump Organization as “an American success story” and called the judge’s ruling “fundamentally flawed.” “We intend to immediately appeal this decision because President Trump and his family, like every American business owner, is entitled to their day in court,” Habba said in a statement on Tuesday. Before this ruling, Trump’s legal team had requested Judge Engoron to dismiss the case against him, asserting that Letitia James lacked the authority to file the lawsuit.
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They argued that there was no evidence of harm to the public resulting from Trump’s actions, and many of the allegations exceeded the statute of limitations. However, the judge signaled his lack of sympathy for these arguments last week, chastising Trump’s lawyers for presenting what he deemed as “frivolous arguments” and even contemplating the possibility of imposing sanctions against them.
Chris Kise, who is also representing Trump in a federal indictment in Florida over the former president’s handling of classified documents after leaving the White House, argued: “What is happening here is what happens every day in complex business transactions.” Engoron was not swayed. “The fact that no one was hurt does not mean the case gets dismissed,” he said. On Tuesday, in his decision, Judge Engoron approved James’s request for penalties against Trump’s legal team.
He fined five attorneys $7,500 each for persistently presenting arguments that had already been dismissed. While Manhattan prosecutors initially considered pursuing a criminal case for fraudulent conduct, they ultimately decided against it. Consequently, James proceeded to file a lawsuit against Trump, aiming to impose penalties that could potentially affect Trump and his family’s business activities in New York.
Engoron’s ruling, as part of the summary judgment phase, addresses the primary allegation in James’s lawsuit, with six other claims still pending. The trial without a jury is set to commence on October 2nd. James is pursuing $250 million in penalties and a prohibition on Trump conducting business in his home state of New York. Judge Engoron has indicated that the proceedings may extend into December.
Judge Engoron has previously imposed penalties on Trump. In early 2022, the former president paid fines totaling $110,000 due to missed case deadlines. This case is just one of several that Trump, who is currently leading in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, must contend with while actively campaigning. He is facing a total of 91 criminal charges across four indictments.
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Involving hush-money payments to an adult film star, unauthorized retention of classified information, and allegations of election interference at both the federal and state levels. In a separate civil court proceeding, there is another defamation trial awaiting Trump, which pertains to allegations made by writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of sexual assault in the 1990s. In this case, Trump has been held responsible for defamation and sexual abuse, resulting in fines of approximately $5 million and a legal determination that he engaged in sexual assault.