NEW YORK, April 26 (UPI) — A New York judge ruled Tuesday that a civil fraud case against Republican presidential contender Donald Trump will go to trial.
New York County Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern made the ruling during a hearing Tuesday. The case stems from accusations from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that Trump misled thousands of students at the real estate school.
Officials said the trial could be held this fall and that Trump could himself testify, perhaps during his presidential campaign.
Schneiderman claims that the real estate school was unlicensed and made disingenuous claims, such as the instructors being hand-picked by Trump himself. The attorney general, a Democrat, also said the school often used “bait and switch” tactics designed to get students to enroll in expensive seminars.
Trump, though, has denied any wrongdoing and said the school had a 98 percent approval rating from students. He unsuccessfully tried to have the case dismissed last month.
“Let’s see what happens in court,” the billionaire said in March. “This is a civil case, very easy to have settled, could settle it now, very easy to have settled.”
Schneiderman’s suit seeks $40 million in restitution and damages for more than 5,000 U.S. students, including 600 New Yorkers, who paid as much as $35,000 each, Fox News reported. The school operated between 2005 and 2010.
Trump is seeking a jury trial in the case. Schneiderman’s office, however, said he is not entitled to one, and wants Judge Kern to decide the matter.
“Why would the attorney general who represents constituents of the state of New York fear the constituents of the state of New York determining if he’s right?” Trump attorney Jeffrey Goldman asked. “They don’t want to go to trial.”
Kern will decide later whether to put the case to a jury or decide it herself.
Any trial is likely months away, though, because both parties agreed Tuesday that higher courts should be allowed to decide whether Trump’s motion to dismiss should be heard by the New York Supreme Court.