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What’s in Judge Engoron’s Donald Trump Civil-Fraud Ruling?

by California Digital News


Donald Trump at his hearing in the civil-fraud case last year.
Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

A New York judge on Friday handed down the penalties for Donald Trump and the Trump Organization after finding last fall that they had committed financial fraud, ordering the former president to pay a penalty of more than $350 million. (It will wipe out most of his cash.) As a result of the ruling, Trump will also be barred from his business for three years.

Justice Arthur Engoron, who took no shortage of abuse from Trump during the trial, was scathing in his final assessment of the defendants. “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” he wrote in his decision. “Defendants did not commit murder or arson. 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. Instead, they adopt a ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ posture that the evidence belies.”

Trump blasted the ruling as “illegal” and “unAmerican” on his social media site TruthSocial. “This “decision” is a Complete and Total SHAM,” he said.

This marks the end of a yearslong civil-fraud prosecution by the office of New York attorney general Letitia James, which alleged that Trump, some of his children, and other Trump business executives had lied to lenders about the value of their properties in order to obtain favorable loan terms and had fraudulently inflated the former president’s net worth. (The size of Trump’s own penthouse apartment in his eponymous tower was tripled in representations.) Here is the breakdown of Engoron’s decision, which Trump is almost certain to appeal:

Engoron has ordered that Trump be barred from leading any New York–based corporation or legal entity for a span of three years, which includes the Trump Organization. The company’s former CFO Allen Weisselberg and former controller Jeffrey McConney received the same penalty and are permanently banned from “serving in the financial control function” of any New York company.

Overall, this is less than the attorney general sought. James had requested that Trump, Weisselberg, and McConney all be banned for life from operating in the New York real-estate industry or from running any New York corporation.

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump each received a two-year ban from leading any company in the state. The attorney general had sought a five-year ban against the former president’s eldest sons, who both currently serve as executive vice-presidents of the Trump Organization. Ivanka Trump, who was named in James’s initial lawsuit, was later dismissed from the case owing to the statute of limitations.

In conjunction with the Trump Organization, Donald Trump has been ordered to pay a staggering $354.8 million, not counting interest. James had asked the judge to levy $370 million as a penalty against the defendants, a significant increase from her initial ask of $250 million when she first filed the lawsuit.

Eric and Donald Trump Jr. have each been ordered to pay a little more than $4 million plus interest. Weisselberg was handed a $1 million penalty, also with interest.

In September, Engoron shocked the political world when he ordered that the organization’s business certificates in New York be rescinded —tantamount to the death penalty for the company and something even James did not explicitly request. Instead, the attorney general asked that the independent monitor appointed to oversee the company be kept on for an additional five years to ensure compliance with the ruling. The organization is already being monitored by Barbara Jones, a retired federal judge, who has been criticized by Trump’s legal team.

In his ruling, Engoron vacated his original order to cancel the business certificate, ensuring the company will continue to exist for the time being. The judge noted, however, that the decision could be revisited depending on reports from the independent monitor. He also said Jones will continue in her role for a minimum of three years.


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