A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday ruled that former President Donald Trump—the twice-impeached GOP presidential front-runner facing 91 federal and state criminal charges in four separate cases—committed fraud over years while building his real estate businesses.
The Associated Press reports Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York Supreme Court’s 1st Judicial District ruled in a civil suit that Trump, his company—the Trump Organization—and other defendants including his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, lied to banks, insurers, and others by massively exaggerating the value of his assets and net worth in documents used to secure deals and financing.
In his ruling—which comes days before the commencement of a non-jury trial—Engoron ordered the revocation of Trump’s New York business licenses, a move that will likely make it impossible for the Trump Organization to do business in the state. Engoron also said he would mandate an independent monitor to oversee Trump Organization operations.
The judge also ordered the defendants to propose up to three potential independent receivers to manage the dissolution of the canceled limited liability companies within 10 days.
“In defendants’ world: Rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies,” wrote Engoron. “That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”
Engoron sanctioned five of Trump’s lawyers, including Christopher Kise, who represents the former president in the federal case over his alleged illegal retention and mishandling of classified documents. The attorneys must each pay $7,500.
Kise previously said Trump’s fraudulent valuations were a sign of his “investment genius.”
Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the civil suit, says the former president at times overvalued his assets by up to $2.2 billion.
According to The New York Times:
Ms. James started investigating Mr. Trump in March 2019 and filed a lawsuit against him last September, accusing him of “staggering” fraud in representing the value of his apartment buildings, hotels, and golf clubs, among other assets. Her filings have accused Mr. Trump of using simple, duplicitous tricks to multiply the value of his signature properties, from Trump Tower to Mar-a-Lago.
James’ lawsuit is seeking a fine of around $250 million and a ban on Trump family members leading the Trump Organization. Trump denies any wrongdoing and accuses James of politically motivated persecution.