Trump ordered to pay $355 million in NY civil fraud trial verdict

A New York judge on Friday ruled that Donald J. Trump handed down a crushing defeat in his civil fraud case, finding the former president conspired to manipulate his net worth and ordering him to liquidate nearly $355 million in fines and interest. Total cash reserves.

Justice Arthur F. Engoron's decision closes a messy, years-long case in which New York's attorney general, Mr. Trump's fantastic claims about his wealth are under investigation. With no jury, the power rested solely in the hands of Judge Engoron, and he came down hard: the judge handed down a range of sentences that threatened the former president's business empire.

Judge Engoron Mr. Trump was banned for three years from serving in key positions at any New York company, including parts of his own Trump Organization. He also imposed a two-year ban on the former president's adult sons and ordered them to pay more than $4 million each. One of them, Eric Trump, is the company's de facto chief executive, and the ruling raises doubts about whether anyone in the family will be able to run the business anytime soon.

According to Attorney General Letitia James, the judge ordered them to pay substantial interest, pushing the fine for the former president to $450 million.

In his unorthodox style, Justice Ngoron Mr. Trump and other defendants have been criticized for years of refusing to admit wrongdoing. “Their utter despondency and remorse borders on pathology,” he said.

He acknowledged that Mr Trump had committed no violent crimes and that “Donald Trump is no Bernard Madoff”. However, he wrote, “criminals are incapable of admitting the error of their ways.”

Mr. Trump will appeal the financial penalty, but must come up with the money or get a bond within 30 days. The judgment won't bankrupt him because most of his wealth is in real estate, which is far greater than the overall fine.

Mr. Trump will also ask the appeals court to suspend restrictions on him and his sons from running the company while it considers the case. At a press conference Friday evening from his home in Mar-a-Lago, he attacked Ms. James and Judge Engoron, calling them both “corrupt.”

Mr. In her own statement, one of Trump's lawyers, Alina Hubba, described the ruling as a “plain injustice — plain and simple.” “Given the heavy stakes, we are confident that the Appellate Division will overturn this damning verdict,” he added.

But the appointment of an independent watchdog, who would be the court's eyes and ears in the Trump administration, would have to be extended by three years: Mr. Justice Engoron also strengthened the monitor's powers to track fraudulent and second-guess transactions that appear suspicious.

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Mr. Trump's lawyers have charged against the superintendent, Barbara Jones, that her work has already cost the business more than $2.5 million; The decision to expand oversight of the privately held company could anger the Trumps, who see his presence as an annoyance and an embarrassment.

Ms James asked for a more severe sentence, asking that Mr Trump be permanently barred from New York's business world. In the case, which accelerated a 2022 trial, he accused Mr Trump of inflating his net worth to get favorable treatment from banks and other lenders, undermining his public persona as a billionaire businessman.

Creditors Mr. Despite earning money from Trump, they were said to be victims in the case, and Ms. James argued that without his fraud, they could have earned much more.

The financial penalty reflects those lost profits, nearly half of the $355 million — $168 million — Mr. It represents the interest that Trump saved, and the remaining amount represents the profit he made on the recent sale of two properties. Mr. From Trump and the corporations he owns.

Before the trial began, Judge Ngoron ruled that the former president had defrauded creditors by using his annual financial statements. The judge's ruling on Friday, Mr. Mrs. Trump on Trump. It upheld all other charges against James, finding that the former president conspired with his top executives to violate several state laws.

The judge's decision hands Ms. James, a Democrat, a career-defining victory. He is Mr. He campaigned for office promising to bring Trump to justice and sat quietly in a courtroom as the former president attacked him, calling him a corrupt politician motivated only by self-interest.

“This prolonged fraud is deliberate, egregious, and illegal,” Ms. James said during a Friday evening news conference, adding, “There can't be different rules for different people in this country, and former presidents are no exception.”

He was found to have sexually abused writer E. Two months after a January jury verdict in a defamation suit brought by Jean Carroll, Mr. It was Trump's second-biggest court loss. A jury awarded him $83.3 million in fines.

Manhattan prosecutors are expected to file criminal charges against Mr. He is also fighting 57 other charges in three criminal cases.

But none of his legal problems were as bad as the fraud case. That didn't seem to bother Trump. During the trial, he objected to its premise, pleading that “it harassed someone who had done a good job in New York.”

Mr. Trump's lawyers, who argued that fraud in the traditional sense does not have a victim, dared the attorney general to find someone who could harm him. In a statement Friday, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization noted that the company “has not defaulted on or defaulted on any loans” and that lenders “conducted extensive due diligence before entering into these transactions.”

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In the investigation, Mr. Trump's lawyers called the president's former bankers as witnesses, who said Mr.

Eric Trump and his brother Donald Trump Jr. also testified, but their efforts to distance themselves from their father's financial statements failed with the judge. Judge Engoron's decision to bar him from running a New York business for two years — and Mr. Trump for three — will hit a nerve in the Trump family.

Before the trial, the fallout from the case threatened the existence of the Trump Organization. Mr. When Judge Engron first ruled that Trump had committed fraud, he ordered the liquidation of much of the former president's New York empire.

But legal experts questioned the judge's ability to do that, and in his ruling on Friday, Judge Engoron backtracked. Instead, the judge said any “restructuring and possible liquidation” would be up to Ms Jones, the independent monitor.

The judge also gave Ms Jones new powers as part of “enhanced oversight” and asked her to appoint an independent compliance director who would oversee the company's financial reporting from its ranks.

Mr. Surveillance and other penalties, including a three-year ban on Trump and his company, could plague the company as it seeks to compete in the state's crowded real estate market.

However, nothing hurts like a financial penalty. If upheld on appeal, it would increase the cushion of liquidity — cash, stocks and bonds — that Mr. Trump has built on that in his post-presidential career.

Mr. Trump said last year he was sitting on more than $400 million in cash, but Judge Engoron's $355 million sentence, Mr. Between the interest owed by Trump and the $83.3 million payment to Ms. Carroll, it could all go away. If so, Mr Trump may have to sell one or another of his properties to make the payment.

The symbolism of the punishments cannot be overlooked. Mr. Trump is synonymous with the company he ran for decades, and by cutting him off from its operations, the judge has written an uncomfortable epilogue to the former president's story of his life as a New York mogul.

For now, Mr. Trump sees his legal misfortunes as political gold. He used the lawsuits to falsely portray himself as the victim of a Democratic cabal led by President Biden, and campaigned in every courthouse he visited.

In Justice Engoron's courtroom, Mr. Trump gave a rallying cry from the witness stand, marking the culmination of a month-long trial that has been by turns choked. The former president hit out at one of Ms. James' lawyers: “You and every other Democrat, district attorney, AG and US attorney are coming after me from 15 different angles. All Democrats, all Trump haters.

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He spared neither Ms James nor the judge, calling the Attorney General a “political hack” and Judge Engoron a “very hostile judge”.

Mr. Trump later issued his own closing statement, calling Ms. James' alleged fraud a “fraud on me” and that the attorney general should “make me pay.”

He made drama even when he wasn't in the spotlight, rolling his eyes at the defense table and muttering to his lawyers. His former fixer, Michael D., who directly linked Mr. Trump to the fraud scheme. He was particularly angered by Cohen's testimony.

Mr. Trump's lawyers, Mr. They succeeded in excoriating Cohen, and asked Judge Engoron to throw out the case, based on apparent inconsistencies in his testimony. When the judge refused, Mr. Trump suddenly got up and left the courtroom.

Judge Mr. Trump's behavior was largely tolerated, but initially, the former president forbade him from attacking his staff, most notably his law clerk, who sat next to the judge throughout the hearing and consulted with them. Mr. Trump violated the order twice, resulting in a $15,000 fine from the judge.

Despite the courtroom theatrics, the evidence presented consisted of years-old emails and spreadsheets. Through that documentary evidence, Mr. Ms. James's lawyers showed that Trump's company ignored appraisals and inflated the value of properties such as golf clubs and office buildings, sometimes manipulating the numbers to absurd heights.

At Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, Mr. The listed size of Trump's triplex apartment is a gross exaggeration. For years, the former president valued it at 30,000 square feet, when it was actually 10,996.

In his ruling, Justice Engoron said Mr. Trump and the other defendants said the only error they would admit to was misrepresenting the size of the apartment.

Justice Engoron wrote that he was not looking to “judge morality” — only to find the facts and apply the law.

“The Court wants to protect the integrity of the financial market and thus the public as a whole,” he wrote.

Mr. Judge Engoron added that Trump's refusal to admit wrongdoing leaves him with no choice but to conclude that the former president will continue to commit fraud unless he is stopped.

William K. Rashbaum, Claire Fahy And Maggie Haberman Contributed report.

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