According to a New York judge, Donald Trump committed fraud by regularly exaggerating his worth by hundreds of millions of dollars.
The former president was found guilty of years-long fraud against banks and insurers as part of a legal action brought against him and his family business.
It is a significant setback for Mr. Trump and will probably limit his ability to conduct business in the state.
Additionally, it will make it simpler for prosecutors to prove damages.
The defense of Mr. Trump and the other defendants is that they never engaged in fraud.
In a lawsuit filed against Mr. Trump last September, New York Attorney General Letitia James charged that he, his two adult sons, and the Trump Organization had overstated the worth of their properties by more than $2 billion (£1.65 billion) in order to benefit their business.
She said that the defendants made fake financial and accounting documents in order to obtain better loan and insurance terms and reduce their tax obligations.
Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York state court delivered the harsh sentence on Tuesday after Ms. James requested a summary judgment before the trial started. She suggested that establishing some facts as undisputed would expedite the trial.
The trial will now concentrate on a more limited set of the six remaining claims and evaluate the extent of any potential punishment since the verdict answers the lawsuit’s primary claim of fraud.
The trial is slated to start on October 2 and may go until at least December. In addition to a $250 million fine, Ms. James wants to prevent Mr. Trump from conducting business in his home state.
“The documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business,” Judge Engoron stated in his decision.
He wrote, “That is a fantasy realm, not the real world.
According to the judge, Mr. Trump:
Additionally, Judge Engoron ruled that the Trump Organization’s business certificates, which permit it to conduct business in New York, and other firms owned by the former president, must be revoked.
Although his corporation will remain in business, this might put an end to his authority over recognizable New York buildings like the Trump Tower and the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street.
The judge turned down the Trump team’s plea to have the lawsuit dismissed and separately penalized five Trump attorneys each $7,500 for supporting their clients’ “obstreperous” behavior by offering “preposterous” arguments that the court had already rejected.
Attorneys for Mr. Trump referred to this decision as “a miscarriage of justice” and said they would file an appeal.
The former president, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, claimed on Tuesday that the New York case was the result of yet another political “witch hunt” by a prosecutor who was biased against him.
He charged that the judge was “highly politicized.”
Mr. Trump has sued the judge in an effort to delay the New York trial.
This week, an appeals court will make a decision regarding that lawsuit. If it finds against him, Mr. Trump will have to proceed with the remaining judicial proceedings.
He is engaged in a number of legal challenges as he prepares for a rematch with President Joe Biden in the race next year and a potential run for the White House.
He is currently in the lead for the Republican nomination and is also being prosecuted on 91 felony charges spread over four cases. In those instances, he entered a not guilty plea.