Trump Will Challenge Judge Engoron’s Definition of Fraud, Lawyer Says

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
February 19, 2024Donald Trump
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Trump Will Challenge Judge Engoron’s Definition of Fraud, Lawyer Says
(Left) New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron. (Right) Former President Donald Trump in the courtroom in New York on Oct. 17, 2023. (Dave Sanders/Pool Photo via AP; Seth Wenig/Pool/Getty Images)

A lawyer representing former President Donald Trump said that his team will challenge a New York judge’s decision last week, targeting the judge’s definition of what fraud is.

Last Friday, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that the former president is liable for a $355 million fine and cannot operate his Trump Organization in New York state for three years.

“The case raises serious legal and constitutional questions regarding ‘fraud’ claims/findings without any actual fraud,” Chris Kise, the former lawyer in the case, told Newsweek on Monday.

Regarding the appeal of the cause, the lawyer said that it “will depend on many factors so it’s hard to say at the moment, but in any event, it will fall within the 30-day clock” under the court’s rules.

In 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit against the former president, his two sons Eric and Donald Jr, the Trump Organization, and several other individuals. Weeks before the trial started, Judge Engoron ruled that President Trump inflated his assets to get better loans.

Other than the judgment against President Trump, the judge wrote that sons Donald Jr. and Eric have to pay $4 million each and are also banned from doing business in New York state for two years. Two executives at the company, Allen Weisselberg and Jeff McConney, were barred from serving as a company officer for three years.

“This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin,” Judge Engoron wrote. “They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways.”

He said their “complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological” and “the frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience.”

The defendants in the case, including President Trump, said they were innocent and asserted that the judge and Ms. James are acting in a politically motivated manner to target the former president, who is currently the Republican 2024 presidential frontrunner, according to numerous polls.

During the trial, President Trump called Judge Engoron “extremely hostile” and Ms. James “a political hack.” He also incurred $15,000 in fines for violating a gag order that the judge imposed after he made a disparaging and untrue social media post about a key court staffer.

While testifying, President Trump said his financial statements actually understated his net worth. He maintains that he is worth several billion dollars and testified last year that he had about $400 million in cash, in addition to properties and other investments.

Reiterating his testimony, the President Trump said last week, “There were no victims because the banks made a lot of money.”

A former Trump banker at Deutsche Bank, David Williams, also said in November that the bank adjusted President Trump’s net worth to $2.6 billion from the $4.9 billion that he reported. But such a revision, he added, is “not unusual or atypical.”

Last month, a jury ordered the former president to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. That’s on top of the $5 million a jury awarded Ms. Carroll in a related trial last year.

In 2022, the Trump Organization was convicted of tax fraud and fined $1.6 million in an unrelated criminal case.

Aside from those cases, President Trump faces a trial in Manhattan next month for allegedly falsifying business records connected to payments he made toward the end of the 2016 campaign. The former president has pleaded not guilty in the case, which is being brought by Democrat Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

He’s said that Mr. Bragg and Judge Juan Merchan, the presiding judge in the case, have a political bias against him.

Appeal?

Should President Trump appeal the decision, one legal analyst said that it hinges on his argument that there were no victims.

NTD Photo
Justice Arthur Engoron in the courtroom before the start of the third day of the civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump, in New York on Oct. 4, 2023. (Mary Altaffer/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

“It is unusual, and that’s one of the issues here,” said white collar criminal defense attorney Paul DerOhannesian, reported Reuters. “We haven’t really seen this type of proceeding before against a very large New York business.”

Syracuse University law professor Gregory Germain appeared to dispute the case, telling Reuters that the “attorney general’s job is to protect people who can’t protect themselves,” adding that “we’re dealing with very sophisticated lenders who are fully capable of protecting themselves and haven’t asked the attorney general for help.”

“I think the judges are going to have to look carefully at what the powers of the attorney general are here,” Mr. Germain said. “Are they so broad that any lie can put you out of business, even if nobody believed it?”

After Judge Engoron’s ruling, there have been warnings that businesses may not want to operate out of New York state, potentially leading to a downturn in the state’s economy. That prompted Gov. Kathy Hochul to try and reassure businesses that they have “nothing to worry about” after the ruling.

From The Epoch Times

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