New York judge rules Trump committed fraud and lied about his net worth for years

A New York judge ruled in the state attorney general’s $250 million lawsuit against Donald Trump and his company Tuesday that the former president committed repeated acts of fraud for years.

According to the ruling, which allows the civil trial to begin next week, Trump lied to banks and insurers by both overvaluing and undervaluing his assets when it was to his benefit while exaggerating his net worth to the tune of billions of dollars.

In his 35-page ruling, Judge Arthur Engoron said Trump continually lied on his financial statements and was able to get favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums as a result. Trump’s legal arguments defending the statements are based in “a fantasy world, not the real world,” Engoron wrote.

He went on to say that the case was essentially a “documents case” and that “the documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business, satisfying [the attorney general’s] burden to establish liability as a matter of law against defendants. Defendants’ respond that: the documents do not say what they say; that there is no such thing as ‘objective’ value; and that, essentially, the Court should not believe its own eyes.”

“The defenses Donald Trump attempts to articulate in his sworn deposition are wholly without basis in law or fact,” Engoron added.

At one point, Engoron pointed to Trump’s having exaggerated the size of his New York apartment to pump up its value, repeatedly claiming it was over 30,000 feet when it was a third of that size.

“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 wrote.

He found Trump, his sons Don Jr. and Eric and their companies liable for fraud.

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He also denied Trump’s motion for summary judgment that argued New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit should be dismissed. Engoron sanctioned Trump’s attorneys $7,500 apiece for making legal arguments that had already been rejected twice.

The ruling would dissolve numerous limited liability companies, or LLCs, associated with Trump, including the Trump Organization LLC, an entity that’s been been used to expand the Trump brand through use of his name. Each side was given 10 days to recommend three potential receivers to manage the dissolution of the LLCs identified in the court filing.

While the New York-based LLCs will need to be dissolved, it will be up to the receiver to determine what that looks like.

Former judge Barbara Jones will continue in her role as a court appointed monitor of financial activity at Trump Organization Inc., which is separate from the similarly named LLC.

Engoron further ordered that the outstanding issues in the case will get resolved at trial.

The trial is scheduled to start Monday. Because it is a bench trial, the case will be decided solely by the judge, with no jury.

In a statement Tuesday on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump blasted the state attorney general and the judge and said, “My Civil Rights have been violated, and some Appellate Court, whether Federal or State, must reverse this horrible, un-American decision.”

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and insisted that the lawsuit is part of a partisan “witch hunt.” In a social media post Monday, he called Engoron a “Trump Hater beyond even A.G. James.”

Trump’s lead attorney in the case, Christopher Kise, called the ruling “outrageous” and said it was “completely disconnected from the facts and governing law.”

He said in a statement that Engoron had “disregarded the viewpoint of those actually involved in the loan transactions who testified there was nothing misleading, there was no fraud, and the transactions were all highly profitable.”

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“While the full impact of the decision remains unclear, what is clear is that President Trump and his family will seek all available appellate remedies to rectify this miscarriage of justice,” Kise said.

Another Trump attorney,Alina Habba, focused on Engoron’s determination that Trump’s Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, had been grossly overvalued.

Engoron noted that from 2011 to 2021, the Palm Beach County assessor appraised the market value of Mar-a-Lago at $18 million to $27.6 million. Trump’s financial statements, meanwhile, put the club’s value at almost $427 million to $612 million.

She said the judge’s findings, including the one “that Mar-a-Lago is worth approximately $20 million,” is “an affront to our legal system.”

In a tweet, Eric Trump said after the ruling that he had “lost all faith in the New York legal system.”

“We have run an exceptional company — never missing a loan payment, making banks hundreds of millions of dollars, developing some of the most iconic assets in the world. Yet today, the persecution of our family continues,” he said.

James’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Engoron’s ruling.

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss is a reporter and producer for NBC and MSNBC.

Chloe Atkins

Chloe Atkins reports for the NBC News Investigative Unit, based in New York. She frequently covers crime and courts, as well as the intersection of reproductive health, politics and policy.

Jonathan Dienst

Jonathan Dienst is chief justice contributor for NBC News and chief investigative reporter for WNBC-TV in New York.

Dareh Gregorian

Dareh Gregorian is a politics reporter for NBC News.