Donald Trump Fraud Verdict: $364 Million Penalty in New York Civil Case

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    FILE - Former President Donald Trump, center, sits in the courtroom before the start of closing arguments in his civil business fraud trial at New York Supreme Court, Jan. 11, 2024, in New York. A New York judge has ruled against Donald Trump Friday, Feb. 16, imposing a $364 million penalty over what the judge said was a yearslong scheme to dupe banks and others with financial statements that inflated the former president’s wealth. Trump also has been barred from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation for three years. However, the judge backed away from an earlier ruling that would have dissolved the former president’s companies. (Michael Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

    NEW YORK (AP) — A New York judge ruled Friday against Donald Trump, imposing a $364 million penalty over what the judge ruled was a yearslong scheme to dupe banks and others with financial statements that inflated the former president’s wealth.

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    Trump also was barred from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation for three years.

    However, the judge backed away from an earlier ruling that would have dissolved the former president’s companies.

    Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal. Attorney Alina Habba called the verdict “manifest injustice” and “the culmination of a multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt.” She and Trump lawyer Christopher Kise said the verdict, if upheld, would damage the business environment.

    Judge Arthur Engoron issued his decision after a 2½-month trial that saw the Republican presidential front-runner bristling under oath that he was the victim of a rigged legal system.

    Engoron concluded that Trump and his co-defendants “failed to accept responsibility” for their actions and that expert witnesses who testified for the defense “simply denied reality.”

    The judge called the civil fraud at the heart of the trial a “venial sin, not a mortal sin.”

    “They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways,” wrote Engoron, a Democrat. He said their “complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.”

    The stiff penalty was a victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, who sued Trump over what she said was not just harmless bragging but years of deceptive practices as he built the multinational collection of skyscrapers, golf courses and other properties that catapulted him to wealth, fame and the White House.

    Trump’s lawyers had said even before the verdict that they would appeal.

    James sued Trump in 2022 under a state law that authorizes her to investigate persistent fraud in business dealings.

    The suit accused Trump and his co-defendants of routinely puffing up his financial statements to create an illusion his properties were more valuable than they really were. State lawyers said Trump exaggerated his wealth by as much as $3.6 billion one year.

    By making himself seem richer, Trump qualified for better loan terms, saved on interest and was able to complete projects he might otherwise not have finished, state lawyers said.

    Even before the trial began, Engoron ruled that James had proven Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent. The judge ordered some of Trump’s companies removed from his control and dissolved. An appeals court put that decision on hold.

    In that earlier ruling, the judge found that, among other tricks, Trump’s financial statements had wrongly claimed his Trump Tower penthouse was nearly three times its actual size and overvalued his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, based on the idea that the property could be developed for residential use, even though he had surrendered rights to develop it for any uses but a club.

    Trump, one of 40 witnesses to testify at the trial, said his financial statements actually understated his net worth and that banks did their own research and were happy with his business.

    “There was no victim. There was no anything,” Trump testified in November.

    During the trial, Trump called the judge “extremely hostile” and the attorney general “a political hack.” In a six-minute diatribe during closing arguments in January, Trump proclaimed “I am an innocent man” and called the case a “fraud on me.”

    Trump and his lawyers have said the outside accountants that helped prepare the statements should’ve flagged any discrepancies and that the documents came with disclaimers that shielded him from liability. They also argued that some of the allegations were barred by the statute of limitations.

    The suit is one of many legal headaches for Trump as he campaigns for a return to the White House. He has been indicted four times in the last year — accused in Georgia and Washington, D.C., of plotting to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, in Florida of hoarding classified documents, and in Manhattan of falsifying business records related to hush money paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels on his behalf.

    On Thursday, a judge confirmed Trump’s hush-money trial will start on March 25 and a judge in Atlanta heard arguments on whether to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from his Georgia election interference case because she had a personal relationship with a special prosecutor she hired.

    Those criminal accusations haven’t appeared to undermine his march toward the Republican presidential nomination, but civil litigation has threatened him financially.

    On Jan. 26, a jury ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. That’s on top of the $5 million a jury awarded Carroll in a related trial last year.

    In 2022, the Trump Organization was convicted of tax fraud and fined $1.6 million in an unrelated criminal case for helping executives dodge taxes on extravagant perks such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars.

    James had asked the judge to impose a penalty of at least $370 million.

    Engoron decided the case because neither side sought a jury and state law doesn’t allow for juries for this type of lawsuit.

    Because it was civil, not criminal in nature, the case did not carry the potential of prison time.

    James, who campaigned for office as a Trump critic and watchdog, started scrutinizing his business practices in March 2019 after his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Trump exaggerated his wealth on financial statements provided to Deutsche Bank while trying to obtain financing to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

    James’ office previously sued Trump for misusing his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests. Trump was ordered to pay $2 million to an array of charities as a fine and the charity, the Trump Foundation, was shut down.

    Trump incorporated the Trump Organization in New York in 1981. He still owns it, but he put his assets into a revocable trust and gave up his positions as the company’s director, president and chairman when he became president, leaving management of the company to sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr.

    Trump did not return to a stated leadership position upon leaving the White House in 2021, but his sons testified he’s been involved in some decision making.

    Engoron had already appointed a monitor, retired federal judge Barbara Jones, to keep an eye on the company.


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    45 Comments
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    Moshe Hirsch's cousin
    Moshe Hirsch's cousin
    2 months ago

    Tish James was seeking a $370+ million judgment; the judge said, nope, only $364 million.
    According to Trump’s math, he just won $6 million.

    Triumphinwhitehouse
    Triumphinwhitehouse
    2 months ago

    I saw tish james make a chanukah party with our community leaders

    Democrats support mutilating confused children.
    Democrats support mutilating confused children.
    2 months ago

    The Trump hating judge’s ruling will be overturned on appeal.

    Moishe
    Moishe
    2 months ago

    Weren’t we told to vote for Leticia James?
    If I remember correctly all the rabbis and the mosdos endorsed her, like all other Democrats.

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    2 months ago

    This country is disintegrating from WITHIN.

    Face Facts
    Face Facts
    2 months ago

    Tues Tom Suozzi destroyed MAGA candidate for GOP Georgie Santos’ House Seat. Yesterday the Trump NATO comments slammed globally & in US Congress. Today Judge rules against him for continuous and perpetual business fraud. Another great week for Trump. Its so sad…

    shmendrik
    shmendrik
    2 months ago

    I’m sure your brothers in Hamas are as thrilled as you are. This way they will continue getting American tax dollars to wage war against the cursed jews. You can call yourself Adar all you want, it doesn’t take your Jew murdering blood out of your blood stream.

    The Judge
    The Judge
    2 months ago

    Trump was accused of the same thing that Rubashkin received 28 years in prison for. Overstating to the banks the value of his properties, in the case of Rubashkin the value of his sales contracts, in order to qualify collateral for loans. Both men never defaulted on a penny of their loans. Rubashkin may have “padded” invoices, but it was the evil judge that destroyed the value of his business thereby causing Rubashkin to default. In the case of Trump, it was only civil and not criminal because he had legitimate appraisals on the properties. The Court had their own appraisals done that showed (artificially) lower values. But Trump was correct on the values and the judgement was a fraud because before the banks part with their money or offer a line of credit, they do their own independent research on the value of the collateral; obviously they were satisfied. Latisha James and the judge should be in jail. Hopefully after Trump is elected President, he will appoint an AG that will, like a pit-bull, go after them, and all the phony Liberals that tried to subdue him.

    NAVALNY LIVES ON
    NAVALNY LIVES ON
    2 months ago

    $364 M fine for rashaTsar Pootin’s best friend.

    Shawanda obuka
    Shawanda obuka
    2 months ago

    There are millions of realtors across the country who do the same LEGAL thing and are very nervous about this injustice. Unknown number of these are independents who will now go for Trump. MAGA will be stronger than ever.

    See
    See
    2 months ago

    I trust the US todays Justice system as nort Koreas

    Neanderthals rule ??
    Neanderthals rule ??
    2 months ago

    Letitia James, the subhuman AG, ran her entire campaign promising to destroy Trump. Banks & insurance companies were not even affected. Called Trump ” an illegitimate ” president. It’s on video. “

    Democrats support mutilating confused children.
    Democrats support mutilating confused children.
    2 months ago

    Trump hating corrupt judge whose ruling will be overturned on appeal.

    Paul Near Philadelphia
    Paul Near Philadelphia
    2 months ago

    Thank goodness President Trump is worth billions. This will not hurt him at all.

    Aguttenshabbos
    Aguttenshabbos
    2 months ago

    Judging by all the thumbs down to comments supporting Trump and calling out the leftist liberal America hating scumbags, and all the thumbs up for all the comments hating on Trump, it looks like a bunch of evil, lefty, liberal, scumbag, low lives recently discovered VIN.

    Merrick Garfinkel
    Merrick Garfinkel
    2 months ago

    Engoron, the Stalinist scumbag will be remembered as the satanist that he is. Too bad he’s a Jew.