In a major blow to former President Donald J. Trump, a New York judge has ruled that he fraudulently inflated the value of his assets to secure favorable loans and insurance deals. The decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron paves the way for New York Attorney General Letitia James to seek a penalty of approximately $250 million. The judge’s ruling narrows the issues to be heard at the trial and validates the core of James’s case. Justice Engoron scathingly criticized Trump’s defenses, stating that the former president and his company ignored reality to suit their business needs.
Justice Engoron also imposed sanctions on Trump’s lawyers for making arguments that he had previously rejected, ordering each to pay $7,500. While Trump still has the chance to delay the trial or challenge the case against him, an appeals court is expected to rule on his lawsuit against Justice Engoron this week. If the appeals court rules against him, Trump will have to proceed with the remainder of the case at trial. Attorney General Letitia James initiated the investigation into Trump in 2019 and filed a lawsuit last year, alleging massive fraud in the valuation of his properties. The lawsuit seeks a fine of approximately $250 million and aims to remove the Trump family from overseeing the Trump Organization.
Trump’s lawyers had requested a summary judgment before trial to dismiss many claims against him, but Justice Engoron denied this request, while granting James’s partial summary judgment. Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has accused James of political persecution, claiming that the banks that lent him money were not victims as they turned a profit. Overall, this ruling represents a significant victory for Attorney General Letitia James and a setback for the former president.