Home National news Trump, associates ordered to pay $354M in damages in ‘fraud trial’

Trump, associates ordered to pay $354M in damages in ‘fraud trial’

New York Attorney General, Letitia James

When she assumed the role of New York Attorney General, Letitia James made little bones about her desire to take down Donald Trump for what she said was the massive business fraud his organization had committed in the Empire State.  She also took aim at his politics, filing numerous lawsuits related to immigration and environmental policies during Trump’s White House tenure. James also inherited an ongoing state lawsuit against Trump’s charitable foundation, initiated before her term, successfully steering it towards a settlement that included a substantial $2 million fine.

Demonstrating her commitment, she filed another civil lawsuit against Trump the following year, accusing his company of deceiving banks, insurers, and others by artificially inflating the value of assets and his net worth on financial documents. In a clever twist, when announcing the case against Trump, James said: “It’s the art of the steal,” playing on the title of Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal.

On Feb. 16, James nailed the twice-impeached and four-times indicted former president as Judge Arthur Engoron ruled in a civil business fraud trial against the MAGA leader, his sons, business associates, and the Trump Organization, ordering him to pay over $354 million in damages. Engoron also slapped Trump and his company with temporary restrictions on conducting business in New York.

The verdict comes after a prolonged trial where James sought $370 million, alleging “repeated and persistent fraud,” including the falsification of business records and financial statements. In a clear-cut victory for James, Engoron dismissed attempts by Trump to shift blame to accountants. “The buck for being truthful in the supporting data valuations stopped with the Trump Organization, not the accountants,” the judge determined.

The judgment imposes a three-year ban on Trump from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation, along with the appointment of an independent monitor and a directive to install an independent director of compliance for the Trump Organization.

The judge highlighted Trump’s lack of remorse, stating it “borders on pathological” and necessitates external oversight. This marks the second financial setback for Trump this year, following an $83.3 million defamation verdict he was ordered to pay for sexually assaulting a journalist. He also faces four criminal trials later this year, with the first scheduled for March 25 in New York state court. By the time the November election arrives, Trump could also be a convicted felon.

During the New York civil trial, Trump and his executives, including his sons attempted to downplay the significance of exaggerated financial statements. Examples of fraud included inflating property values, such as at Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago, by significant amounts. Trump, who claimed his innocence, asserted that the case was politically motivated.

The judgment cancels Trump’s business certificates in New York, a decision he is appealing. Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, naturally denounced the ruling as a “manifest injustice” and expressed confidence in overturning the verdict through the Appellate Division.

“Judge Engoron levied the financial death penalty on Trump,” Trial lawyer Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, said in an email. “Even for someone with Trump’s net worth, this decision inflicts a serious blow to Trump’s financial health, especially when he has to spend more and more money on legal fees in his many criminal cases.”

Rahmani said Engoron tipped his hand when he granted partial summary judgment before trial. The attorney noted that the judge’s distaste for Trump and his antics was apparent during trial, and the allegations of perjury against defense witness and former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg made the Attorney General’s case even stronger. “This decision is unprecedented, but I don’t think we’ll necessarily see similar cases against other individuals,” Rahmani stated. “Trump is unique in that he stubbornly thumbs his nose at our justice system and finds himself in legal turmoil. Sometimes it’s better to cooperate with authorities or to settle a civil lawsuit rather than fight a losing battle. The E. Jean Carroll defamation judgments and his handling of the classified documents requests and subpoena are previous instances where Trump unnecessarily litigated a losing case, and the New York civil fraud case is yet another example.”

Los Angeles-based trial attorney V. James DeSimone, of V. James DeSimone Law, added that Trump found out exactly how powerful New York’s civil fraud law is. DeSimone said that Engeron’s detailed opinion provides ample basis for the $354 million in penalties he assessed against the Republican presidential frontrunner and his family. “When it comes to anything involving Donald Trump’s court cases, it’s best to figure that he’ll appeal any ruling that finds him in the wrong, and he’ll appeal until the end of time, or he runs out of lawyers. At some point, the findings of fraud against a presidential candidate should matter to the voting public.”

Related Posts

Leave a Comment