Trump autographs woman’s tank top in Iowa
Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House, a judge has ruled.
Judge Arthur Engoron found that the former president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.
Trump, his company and key executives repeatedly lied about them on his annual financial statements, reaping rewards such as favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums, Engoron found.
Those tactics crossed a line and violated the law, the judge said, rejecting Trump’s contention that a disclaimer on the financial statements absolved him of any wrongdoing.
Manhattan prosecutors had looked into bringing a criminal case over the same conduct but declined to do so, leaving Attorney General Letitia James to sue Trump and seek penalties that could disrupt his and his family’s ability to do business in the state.
The decision came only days before a scheduled non-jury trial in James’ lawsuit.
Engoron’s ruling, in a phase of the case known as summary judgment, resolves the key claim in James’ lawsuit, but six others remain.
Engoron is slated to hold a non-jury trial starting Oct. 2 before deciding on those claims and any punishments he may impose.
James is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York, his home state. The trial could last into December, Engoron has said.
Trump’s lawyers had asked the judge to throw out the case, which he denied.
They contend that James wasn’t legally allowed to file the lawsuit because there isn’t any evidence that the public was harmed by Trump’s actions.
They also argued that many of the allegations in the lawsuit were barred by the statute of limitations.
While the former president has often bragged about his net worth, details of his fortune have been muddy.
The self-declared billionaire made his debut as a real estate mogul in the 1970s, claiming in 2016 he launched his first business venture thanks to a “small loan” of $1 million from his father, Fred Trump.
His first major venture came in 1976, when he joined the Hyatt Group to build the Commodore Hotel in Manhattan.
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