Donald Trump fraudulently inflated property values, federal judge rules

Donald Trump. File photo: UPI/Tannen Maury

Sept. 26 (UPI) — Former President Donald Trump fraudulently inflated the values of his real estate properties, a federal judge decided Tuesday in a win for New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron of the 1st Judicial District in New York denied a motion for a summary judgment from Trump’s legal team and granted, in part, a motion for a partial summary judgment sought by James, court records obtained by UPI show.

Engoron canceled all the business licenses for Trump and his co-defendants, which include his two sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., his longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg, and his company — the Trump Organization.

By losing his business licenses, Trump could lose control over his properties in New York. It was among the most significant penalties sought by James in her lawsuit.

The case is scheduled to go to trial next month, which will largely determine the size of Trump’s penalty as most of James’ case has now been ruled valid.

The judge said that, ahead of his decision, Trump had repeated arguments that James’ office does not have the capacity or standing to sue him. Trump’s arguments “invoke the time-loop in the film Groundhog Day,” Engoron added.

He said the court had “emphatically” shot down those “erroneous” arguments numerous times and proceeded to dismiss Trump’s arguments for the third time at length through his 35-page order Tuesday.

“In rejecting such arguments for the second time, this court cautioned that ‘sophisticated counsel should have known better,'” Engoron said. “Apparently, the point was not received.”

Engoron called Trump’s conduct in rehashing his arguments “egregious” and are beginning to show a “blatant disregard of controlling authority and law of the case.”

The judge granted a motion for sanctions sought by James’ office in the amount of $7,500 for each of Trump’s lawyers who included their names on his legal briefs. Engoron named the five lawyers in the order’s footnotes. The fees will be paid to New York’s Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection.

Engoron noted that Trump had raised new defenses for the first time, arguing in their motion for the summary judgment he denied that James’ office had not met its burden sufficient to defeat his motion. However, the judge called that argument, which cited an unrelated case for legal precedent, “flatly wrong.”

The judge added that, in Trump’s deposition, he had spent “a lot of time” invoking a so-called “worthless clause” of his Statement of Financial Conditions.

“I have a clause in there that says, don’t believe the statement, go out and do your own work. This statement is ‘worthless.’ It means nothing,” Trump said in his deposition, calling his SFCs a “meaningless document.”

Engoron retorted in his decision that the “worthless clause” does not say what Trump thinks it does and “does not rise to the level of an enforceable disclaimer and cannot be used to insulate fraud as to facts peculiarly within defendants’ knowledge, even vis-a-vis sophisticated recipients.”

Regarding his decision to grant James’ motion for a partial summary judgment, Engoron cited Trump’s “false and misleading square footage” in describing his apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

The former president was found to have inflated the value of that property alone by as much as $207 million.

“A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud,” Engoron said in his order.

Trump also inflated the values of his Mar-A-Lago residence in Florida, 40 Wall Street, Trump Park Avenue and multiple golf courses. James has argued that, altogether, Trump has inflated the values of his properties by as much as $2.2 billion.


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