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Trump Set to Contest Fraud Ruling by New York Judge

Ex-President Donald Trump plans to contest the $355 million penalty levied against him in a New York civil fraud case, aiming to dispute Judge Arthur Engoron’s interpretation of fraud, as reported by Newsweek on Monday.

Judge Engoron, affiliated with the Democratic Party, ruled on Friday that Trump, along with The Trump Organization, its senior executives, and his adult sons, committed fraud, necessitating the substantial fine.

Chris Kise, Trump’s lead attorney in this matter, expressed concerns over the legal and constitutional implications of labeling actions as fraudulent without concrete evidence of actual fraud.

Trump’s legal team has previously announced their intention to challenge Judge Engoron’s decision at the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, First Judicial Department, as per ABC News.

Kise assured Newsweek that the appeal would be filed within the designated 30-day period provided by the court, although he did not specify an exact date.

Greg Germain, a law professor at Syracuse University, explained to Newsweek that Trump’s defense must argue that New York’s Attorney General Letitia James lacks the authority to impose penalties without proving traditional fraud elements, such as intent, factual misstatements, victim reliance, significance, causation, and incurred damages.

Germain suggested that Trump has a substantial case, especially if the attorney general aims to sanction past actions rather than prevent future misconduct, all traditional fraud components must be demonstrated.

The defense from James’ office will likely maintain that the attorney general is empowered to pursue fraud cases without needing to establish all six fraud criteria.

“According to Judge Engoron’s summary judgment, merely proving false statements is sufficient under executive order 63.12, without needing to demonstrate all fraud elements,” Germain noted.

However, Germain mentioned that a stricter adherence to the complete fraud criteria would have likely revealed minimal evidence of the banks’ “reasonable reliance” on Trump’s declarations, potentially forming a basis for appeal due to the tenuous evidence of the alleged victims’ reliance on Trump’s financial statements.

The judgment followed a trial wherein Attorney General James, who had pledged to target Trump, accused him, his business, and his executives, including his two eldest sons, of misleading banks, insurers, and others by overstating his net worth in financial statements.

In a trial without a jury last fall, Engoron concluded that Trump exaggerated his asset values to secure more advantageous loan terms. The phase to determine the financial penalties for Trump and his colleagues commenced late last year.

Engoron’s decision also includes a ban on Trump executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeff McConney from holding any officer or director position in New York-based corporations or legal entities for three years. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump were each fined over $4 million and prohibited from conducting business in the state for two years.

Kise criticized James and Engoron for their efforts to expel Trump from New York, as mentioned in Newsweek.

Trump, currently leading the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race, has consistently claimed his innocence in this case.