A New York judge ruled on Tuesday afternoon that former president Donald J. Trump committed fraud by inflating the value of his assets and thus stripped his control of signature New York properties. This shocking decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron is a significant victory for Attorney General Letitia James in her lawsuit against Trump. In Sept. 2022, James civilly sued Trump, accusing him of “staggering fraud.” This decision effectively determines that a trial is unnecessary to determine if he fraudulently secured favorable terms on loans and insurance deals.
James argued that Trump inflated the value of his properties by as much as $2.2 billion while developing his real estate empire and is seeking a penalty of $250 million in a trial scheduled for as early as Monday. Justice Enegron wrote that Trump's annual finance statements “clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business.” Engoron ordered that some of Trump's business licenses be rescinded as punishment. Removing business licenses would make it exceptionally difficult to conduct business in New York and allocate an independent party to monitor the Trump Organization's operations.
Trump called the decision “un-American” and part of an ongoing plot to derail his return to the White House. He has insisted that his company “has done a magnificent job for New York State.” Trump's lawyer, Christopher Kise, warned they would appeal, calling the decision disconnected from facts and governing law.
This ruling is the most decisive repudiation of Trump's tainted image as a wealthy yet skewed businessman turned political powerhouse mogul, just days before trial for his lawsuit with James. It has been argued that Trump's business tactics crossed a line and violated the law.
This ruling still leaves many matters unresolved, including what additional penalties might face in his civil lawsuit and is expected to restart on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023. James’ lawsuit is one of several legal troubles for the former president. If appeals are unsuccessful, Trump will lose control of some of his business assets or they will be dissolved altogether. James looks forward to presenting the rest of the case details at trial.