NY Appeals Court rejects Trump’s bid to delay civil fraud trial over asset valuation

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A New York appeals court on Thursday refused to delay Donald Trump’s scheduled Oct. 2 civil fraud trial, after the former US president accused the trial judge of wrongly refusing to throw out most of the case.

In a brief order, a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division, a mid-level appeals court in Manhattan, denied Trump’s motion to delay the trial.

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It also lifted a Sept. 14 order by Justice David Friedman to temporarily put the case on hold while it considered Trump’s motion. Friedman was part of Thursday’s panel.

The panel ruled days after state court Justice Arthur Engoron found that Trump and his family business persistently and fraudulently overvalued his assets and net worth in order to obtain better terms on loans and insurance.

The claims had been brought in September 2022 by state Attorney General Letitia James, who accused Trump, his adult sons, the Trump Organization and others of “staggering fraud” in how they valued properties.

James is seeking at least $250 million in penalties, a ban against Trump and his sons Donald Jr and Eric from running businesses in New York, and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization.

Lawyers for Trump and the other defendants were not immediately available for comment.

Trump sued Engoron on Sept. 14, seeking to delay the trial and accusing him of ignoring a June ruling from the appeals court that, according to Trump, required gutting James’ case because many of her claims were too old.

Engoron’s decision on Tuesday showed that he believed the appeals court ruling had little effect on James’ case.

The judge said the defendants were living in “a fantasy world, not the real world,” as they made up valuations for properties including Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida and Trump Tower penthouse in Manhattan.

Engoron found “conclusive evidence” that Trump had overstated his fortune by as much as $2.2 billion.

He also ordered the cancellation of certificates that let some of Trump’s businesses operate.

This could force Trump to cede control to a receiver of properties including Manhattan’s Trump Tower, a Wall Street office building, golf courses and his family estate in suburban Westchester County, New York.

In its June decision, the appeals court had said James could not pursue some claims that predated either July 2014 or February 2016.

James countered that Trump’s annual financial statements reflected some of those earlier claims, and that she could sue over his “continuing wrongs.”

The attorney general’s case is unrelated to the four criminal indictments that Trump faces, including for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases, and repeatedly cast litigation against him as part of a politically-motivated, Democratic witch hunt as he seeks a return to the White House.

Despite his legal woes, Trump holds a commanding lead for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

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