Trump heads to New York for civil fraud case, business empire under threat of a …

Former President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is slated to attend a civil fraud trial in Lower Manhattan court early Monday morning for the lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James that could end up in an estimated $250 million in penalties, and a ban on conducting business activities in New York.

Trump’s plans became apparent after his deposition set for October 3 to October 9 in the $500 million lawsuit that he filed against his former attorney Michael Cohen was delayed by a week by US Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres in Miami to avoid the cases from overlapping.

As the law enforcement officers and court employees made the security arrangements for Trump’s potential appearance at the courthouse, the former Republican leader took to his social media platform Truth Social to say, “I’m going to Court tomorrow morning to fight for my name and reputation.” 

“My Civil Rights have been violated, and some Appellate Court, whether federal or state, must reverse this horrible, un-American decision,” the 77-year-old Trump wrote on Truth Social. 

Following a campaign event in Ottumwa, Iowa, Trump flew out to New York City on Sunday evening to attend the civil fraud case at 10 a.m. Monday that was brought against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James in September 2022 for malpractices in his real estate business dealings. Among the witnesses are dozens of people in Trump’s orbit including his two eldest sons, Trump Organization executives and his former attorney turned rival Michael Cohen. Trump, who, for decades, has touted himself as a self-made multibillionaire, is accused of inflating his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion while building his real estate empire that could end up in the possible loss of his business licences. 

Trump and James, for over several years, have been on a collision course with the Republican leader volleying insults against him for investigating him and his company. Last week, a New York City judge, Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump committed years of fraud by exaggerating his wealth and the value of assets on financial statements.

Trump has often smeared Engoron as “DERANGED” a “Highly Politicized Democrat” and one who “hated everything about me at a level that I have never seen before.” The judge wants to dissolve some of Trump’s marquee New York properties, like the Trump Tower.

Trump slammed judge Engoron’s fraud ruling against him “the corporate death penalty,” and referred to him as a “political hack” before heading to New York. 

Ex-US President liable for fraud?

Engoron in his ruling has said that the ex-US President is liable for fraud as he committed corrupt practices whilst establishing his real estate empire. In the court papers, Attorney General Letitia James urged Judge Engoron to issue a verdict endorsing her claim that the former President of the United States Donald Trump, his two eldest sons Donald Jr. and Eric and his daughter Ivanka, his company, the Trump Organization defrauded banks and business associates by forging the financial statements about his wealth and the value of his assets.

On February 17, New York’s four-judge panel in the appellate division upheld the ruling of the state’s trial court against enforcing Judge Engoron’s subpoenas for Trump and his two eldest children that required them to give the deposition testimony in court. Trump’s lawyers argued that testimony would violate his constitutional rights as answers could be used in a parallel criminal investigation.  In June, a state appeals court in Manhattan, the Appellate Division, dismissed James’s case against Ivanka Trump. 

Ex US President Donald Trump appears in court for his arraignment in April. Credit: AP

“The existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts, at which a party may exercise the privilege against self-incrimination,” the four-judge panel ruled, citing the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the United States. 

Last year, the former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of tax fraud charges and falsifying business records connected to a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities. According to the evidence uncovered in James’ civil investigation, he allegedly collected more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation by exploiting his position in the Trump Organization. Trump did not show up at the court either as a witness or a spectator. 

A Manhattan jury found The Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. were guilty of all criminal charges for doling out benefits during multiple tainted business dealings and tax fraud. In mid-January, the Trump Organization faced a maximum of $1.61 million in fines due to a sentence, but could not be dismantled as New York law holds no provision to dissolve a company even on a felony conviction. 

Trump did not appear in court even when he was held liable for sexually assaulting the writer E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room.

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Dominic Santana stands outside the Wilkie D Ferguson Jr. courthouse in Miami. Credit: AP

Attorney General Letitia James seeks to sanction Trump, his sons Eric and Don Jr., ban on Trump Organization

James, a Democrat attorney general, argued that the probe uncovered that the 2024 frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the upcoming election 2024 used ‘fraudulent or misleading’ valuations of assets such as the golf courses, skyscrapers, his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago to get hefty loans and avail Government tax benefits. Trump oversaw a “staggering fraud” for more than a decade by exaggerating his net worth, he said. 

Attorney General Letitia James is asking the state Supreme Court to sanction former President Donald Trump, and his sons Eric and Don Jr. and demands a ban on Trump’s company to deter it from engaging in business transactions for up to five years. Engoron resolved the lawsuit’s claims last week ruling that Trump, indeed, routinely deceived banks via fraudulent means, as well as the insurers by exaggerating the value of assets shown in the paperwork for the Trump Organisation, making questionable deals, evading tax, and securing loans. Trump, meanwhile, has called the lawsuit a politically motivated “witch hunt”.

In his post on Truth Social, Trump lashed out at New York Attorney General Letitia James and Judge Arthur Engoron for suing him. “THIS WHOLE CASE IS SHAM!!!” Trump wrote on the platform. “See you in Court – Monday morning.”

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