Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James brought a $250 million civil case against Donald Trump, his two adult sons, and his company the Trump Organization for alleged fraud. Prosecutors allege that over many years, these individuals and the company made repeated fraudulent and misleading statements overvaluing the company’s financial assets.
The trial began on October 2nd, 2023 and Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron will decide, after hearing both parties arguments and evidence, whether Trump and others will be forced to pay the monetary damages Attorney General James demanded.
Days before the trial, Justice Engoron issued an early ruling, determining that Trump and others are legally liable for fraud, and that they falsified financial documents while conducting business transactions. He determined that Trump exaggerated the values of multiple assets while conducting business. For example, he noted that Trump claimed that the Trump Tower apartments, owned by the Trump Organization, were three times their actual size, and also that Trump estimated that Mar-a-Lago was worth up to $739 million, when the assessed value was no more than $28 million. Trump's lawyers argued the inflated value assessments are a part of the real estate business and were not intended to harm or defraud.
Additionally, Engoron ordered the cancellation of the NY business certificates for the Trump Organization, other Trump Subsidiaries, and companies owned by Trump and his sons. Without business certificates, Trump’s companies are unable to be incorporated or act as LLCs in the state of New York.
Originally, the trial was scheduled to run until December 22, 2023. However, Judge Engoron’s pre-trial ruling has likely accelerated the case. The case is a bench trial. This means the case is decided solely by Justice Engoron and no jury will be involved. This is based on Trump’s own filings which did not request a trial by jury.