Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. A 72-story office building in the heart of Wall Street. The Trump International Hotel overlooks Central Park.
These are Donald J. Trump’s flagship New York properties are emblematic of the rise of a developer who parlayed real estate fortunes into reality TV fame and, eventually, the White House.
Now, Mr. Trump could lose his hold on the three properties after a state judge ruled Tuesday that he committed persistent fraud by inflating the value of his properties. The judge sided with New York’s Attorney General Letitia James, who is pursuing a civil suit against the former president.
In sentencing, the judge, Arthur F. Mr. Engoron to run those properties. Trump’s licenses were effectively revoked — and Mr. An even wider swath of the family business Trump has built over the past half-century. The verdict left much of his New York action hanging in the balance.
Mr. Trump is expected to appeal, and the judge, who has been a thorn in the side of Trump lawyers for more than a year, has already sued Engoron. An appeals court could rule on that case as soon as Thursday, which alleges the judge overruled an earlier decision that could have blocked some evidence in the case.
The upcoming ruling could prevent a fraud trial that was scheduled to begin next week to determine whether Mr. Trump should pay a fine and how much additional penalties should be imposed. Ms. James is seeking $250 million.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Mr. Trump’s lawyers appealed for clarification, asking Judge Engron to explain exactly what the effect of his ruling would be.
The judge stumbled. After huddling with his legal writer, Alison Greenfield, he said he appreciated the Trump team’s concern but was “not ready to make a judgment right now.”
Instead, Mr. One of Trump’s lawyers, Christopher M. He accepted Kiss’s request, asking for more time to nominate an independent authority that could implement the judge’s order. Mr. Barbara S., who was already overseeing Trump’s business. Mr. Jones said he wanted to recommend a monitor. Kiss suggested.
If the judge’s decision stands, the business known as the Trump Organization has two paths.
A strict reading of Justice Engoron’s order would, as we know, force it to sell many of its assets and impose a death sentence on its New York operations.
And, legal experts say, the period during which Mr Trump is unable to operate his assets will be handed over to a court-appointed chief executive. Such arrangement Mr. While protecting Trump’s ownership, the defendants would prevent him and his two-year-old sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, from running the machinery of their empire without court approval.
This is Mr. It would be like a court revoking Trump’s driver’s license: He would still have a vehicle and be able to get around, but he would be barred from getting behind the wheel.
It would also be a major blow to the former president, underscoring the authority of a little-known state law. Mrs. James brought his lawsuit alleging that he inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to get favorable loans from banks. Mr. Trump’s Lawyers, Banks Mr. They argued that they made money from Trump, who was not at fault for the payments.
However, the law allows the attorney general to pursue “continuous fraud” without showing that a defendant actually intended to defraud anyone or that their actions resulted in financial loss — a lower bar than most fraud cases. It provides more severe remedies, empowering Ms. James to recover ill-gotten gains and revoke the business certificates the companies need to operate in New York.
Attorney General’s Office Mr. It used the same law in an earlier successful case against Trump University, Trump’s nonprofit education venture.
Although Judge Engoron had the power to revoke the certificates of a Trump family business in New York, many legal experts described it as a rare move.
When Andrew M. was Attorney General. Former federal prosecutor Steven M., who served as a top aide to Cuomo. Cohen said such actions are taken only in “extreme cases involving persistent and widespread fraudulent conduct.”
“Imagine a court deciding that this corporate citizen has continued to conduct himself in a manner that warrants the loss of the privilege to operate in New York,” said Mr. Cohen said.
Mr. Trump – who has moved to Florida since his presidency and owns several properties outside New York – denied wrongdoing and attacked both Ms James and Justice Engoren, noting that they were both Democrats. In a social media post on Tuesday, Mr. Trump called Judge Engoron a “confused loser.”
Mr. In his own statement, Kiss called Judge Engoron’s ruling “outrageous” and “totally disconnected from the facts and the governing law.” He said the judge ignored “basic legal, accounting and business principles”.
Justice Engoron’s courtroom behavior was extraordinary. More than most judges, he jokes when he enters the courtroom and prevents the public from standing.
He loves popular culture references, however dated. At Wednesday’s hearing, he told a story that appears in the 1971 film adaptation of “Fiddler on the Roof.” His ruling on Tuesday cited the Marx Brothers film “Duck Soup” from 1933.
And he had his secretary, Mrs. Greenfield consults openly and allows them to ask questions of the attorneys appearing before them.
Justice Engoron, Mr. Trump and his legal team have consistently taken a skeptical stance, unsuccessfully trying to move the case out of his courtroom. Last year, Judge Mr. Contempt of Trump and fined the former president $110,000, in his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Engoron said Mr. Trump’s attorneys were barred from making arguments they had previously rejected. He ordered each to pay $7,500.
The blows may keep coming. Mrs. James moved from trading in New York to Mr. It seeks to permanently bar Trump and prevent him for five years from applying for a loan from a state-registered financial institution. A full picture of the consequences will emerge only when the civil inquiry is concluded.
“We look forward to presenting the remainder of our case at trial,” Ms James said in a statement on Tuesday.
Control over certain properties Mr. The confusion surrounding Justice Engron’s order to remove Trump stems in part from the company’s unusual corporate structure. The Trump Organization, in fact, Mr. It’s just the name of a collection of hundreds of different legal entities that comprise Trump’s assets, ventures, and other assets. Each Mr. Trump’s trust is owned by, and many are located outside of New York, thus outside the scope of this case.
But Mr. Every one of Trump’s New York properties, nearly a dozen properties, could be destroyed by Judge Encoron’s decision.
He ordered that every Trump company named as a defendant by Ms. James, including the 40 Wall Street office building, lose its business license. A vast universe of New York properties, Mr. and residential towers on Manhattan’s East Side.
Mr. The judge expanded the sentence sought by Ms. James by revoking the certificates of any company controlled by Trump’s sons.
Justice Ngoron’s decision could remove the Trump Corporation’s certification, which Mr. The company and the Trump Organization employ hundreds of people in Trump’s corporate offices. The demise of the organization is symbolic rather than obliterated, as it is only a brand name, not an owner of property or an employer of persons.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Engoron downplayed the sweeping nature of his ruling, even as he declined to answer questions about its ultimate consequences.
“The appearance of the case has changed significantly since yesterday,” he said as the trial began.