Verdict Delayed in Trump Civil Fraud Trial as Judge Engoron Weighs Lifetime Business Ban

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The verdict in former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial has been delayed as the judge weighs whether to ban the former president from doing business.

The verdict in former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in Manhattan that could see him banned for life from doing business in New York has been delayed until mid-February, according to a court spokesperson.

Justice Arthur Engoron said during the trial’s closing arguments on Jan. 11 that he hoped to make his final decision by Jan. 31 in a much-anticipated verdict that could, in addition to hitting the former president with a lifetime business ban, see him fined $370 million.

After the tentative Jan. 31 deadline came and went without a verdict, a spokesperson for the New York State Office of Court Administration, Alfred Baker, said that the judge is now expected to deliver his decision in early to mid-February.

“That’s the working plan now,” Mr. Baker said on Feb. 1, per CNBC.

The spokesperson added that the new timeline for a verdict is a “rough estimate” that could still change.

An email sent to Mr. Baker’s office requesting confirmation of the new timeline and seeking further details was not immediately returned.

Monitor’s Report

While it’s unclear why Justice Engoron is taking more time to deliver the verdict, reports suggest that it could have something to do with a 12-page letter issued by a court-appointed monitor claiming that parts of President Trump’s financial disclosure appeared incomplete or inconsistent.

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Attorneys for President Trump, who maintains his innocence and has called the case a political witch hunt, have disputed the monitor’s characterization of the financial disclosures.

The letter from the monitor, former judge Barbara Jones, pointed out errors on seven disclosure forms, three inconsistencies, and five clerical errors.

President Trump’s attorneys have said the issues flagged by Ms. Jones are immaterial amid the thousands of pages of financial data she has received, which include Trump Organization financial disclosures to third parties, documents related to transactions, bank statements, and all manner of paperwork related to taxes.

Trump attorney Clifford Robert alleged in a letter to Justice Engoron that Ms. Jones’s report, which was issued just days before the expected Jan. 31 verdict, had two basic objectives: one to ensure that the monitor continues to receive “exorbitant” fees (over $2.6 million and counting), and the other to justify continued oversight of President Trump’s business empire.

Mr. Robert also questioned the monitor’s competency, alleging “numerous factual inaccuracies” in her report, which he characterized as “misleading and disingenuous.”

He argued that the errors cited by the monitor have been blown out of proportion and that every item she identified had been fully resolved.

“The Monitor now twists immaterial accounting items into a narrative favoring her continued appointment, and thereby the continued receipt of millions of dollars in excessive fees,” Mr. Robert argued.

Ms. Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Trump attorney’s claims.

The Trial

The trial centers on allegations that the former president and his company, The Trump Organization, defrauded banks, insurers, and others by allegedly overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth in documents used in deals and to secure loans.

The case was brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who initially wanted to fine the former president $250 million but later increased this to $370 million.

Justice Engoron has already issued a summary judgment, finding President Trump and his company liable for fraud. The trial was to decide the remaining claims of conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records.

Ms. James, a Democrat, has requested a broad range of penalties against President Trump, including a $370 million disgorgement and a permanent ban on his doing business in New York state and with any New York-based financial institution.

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks to the press outside the New York State Supreme Court after closing arguments in the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York on Jan. 11, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)
New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks to the press outside the New York State Supreme Court after closing arguments in the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York on Jan. 11, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Recently, Ms. James’s office provided Justice Engoron with a “notice of supplemental authority,” basically a newfound legal precedent, to bolster her call for a Trump business ban.

Colleen Faherty, Ms. James’s assistant, provided Justice Engoron with the notice to draw his attention to a verdict in an unrelated case that banned the defendant from participation in the pharmaceutical industry for life. This is the same type of ban that Ms. James is asking Justice Engoron to impose on President Trump.

While it’s unclear how the judge will weigh the notice, even before the start of the trial he ordered the immediate cancellation of President Trump’s business certificates and the dissolution of his LLCs.

However, that order was paused by an appeals court for at least the duration of the trial after the defense argued it would suddenly cast hundreds of Trump Organization employees’ livelihoods into disarray.

The former president has denied any wrongdoing and has claimed that the case is a politically motivated plot to undermine his 2024 White House run. He is the front-runner by far for the Republican presidential nomination.

President Trump has also said that if he loses the case, it will have a deeply chilling effect on businesses in New York City and could even prompt others to pack up and leave.

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