Massive fraud or the American way?

FILE – Former President Donald Trump pauses before ending his remarks at a rally in Summerville, S.C., Sept. 25, 2023. A judge’s ruling that Trump committed fraud as he built his real-estate empire tarnishes the former president’s image as a business titan and could strip him of his authority to make major decisions about the future of his marquee properties in his home state. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr., File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge’s ruling that Donald Trump committed fraud as he built his real-estate empire tarnishes the former president’s image as a business titan and could strip him of his authority to make major decisions about the future of his marquee properties in his home state. The Tuesday order rescinds business licenses as punishment, which could make it difficult or impossible for some of Trump’s companies to operate in New York if not successfully appealed. Trump’s attorney vowed to appeal, calling the decision “un-American” and part of a campaign to thwart his second bid for the presidency.


Trump and his company massively overvalued his assets, creating “a fantasy world” on the financial statements he gave to banks and others, Judge Arthur Engoron found in a lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general.

Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago club, for example, was overvalued on one financial statement by as much as 2,300%, the judge found. The former president also lied about the size of his Trump Tower penthouse apartment, claiming it was nearly three times its actual size and worth $327 million, according to the ruling.

That discrepancy from a real estate developer describing his own longtime home “can only be considered fraud,” the judge wrote. The exaggerated picture of Trump’s wealth could have gotten him more favorable loan terms or lowered insurance costs, the attorney general has argued. The judge rejected Trump’s contention that a disclaimer on the financial statements absolved him of any responsibility to verify they were truthful.

Comment: I thought about this development over the last week. This says a lot more about the state of US business practices and our society that it says about the business shenanigans of one man. Trump’s being a “dirty, rotten scoundrel”  in the New York City real estate world is not exactly a revelation. The real estate business, in general, seems to be a world of half-truths and outright lies with profit as the only moral code. Big time commercial real estate in NYC is just an especially odious strain of the beast. Or is it a most admired strain? Did Trump just happen to be called out for this behavior because he brought too much attention upon his behavior? I suppose his diehard supporters certainly think so.


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64 Responses to Massive fraud or the American way?

  1. Morongobill says:

    The judge based his whole decision on a massive under valuation of Mara Lago.
    There is a lot of information out there to that effect.

    It will all come out.

    Just try buying anything in that area for $17-21 million. Hell all the judge had to do was look up comps.

    • TTG says:


      This decision was not solely based on Mar-a-Lago. The judge cited histories of fraud at Seven Springs Estate, Trump Tower Triplex, Trump Park Avenue, 40 Wall Street and a number of other golf investments other than Mar-a-Lago and Aberdeen. Mar-a-Lago is not central to the case.

  2. Fred says:

    The only other application of this law and penalty was by …. drum roll …. the same judge against the NRA.

    What is a property worth? Only the state can determine, even years after the fact. Banks can not properly evaluate value or risk. Especially in realestate. Justsee the judges ruling for proof. I hope every other business (greedy capitalists!!!!) in NY pays attention to what this judge and law can do to them. Toe the line, or else. Not chilling to business investment, oh no, not at all.

    Now if there were only some smart ambulance chasers out there they would be filing lawsuits left and right over losses from improperly priced transactions where they lost money (becausethe state didn’t set the value); or tax revenue for that matter. But we got the crook, bastard, greedy capitalist, mean tweeter this time!

  3. Laura Wilson says:

    I guess how you come down on this question relates to whether or not you fill out your own mortgage and loan applications honestly. “Lie down with the dogs and wake up with the fleas” comes to mind.

  4. leith says:

    2,300 percent over-valuation?

    What is that, every dollar equals 23 dollars? What is 2300 percent of $300 million? Hard to conceive for me. Back when I was making ~$300/month while in Viet-Nam, he was getting a million in tax free gifts from his pop, enjoying a medical draft deferment, and spending large in the Manhattan club scene.

    But no matter what I or anybody else says about the guy, he always thought big.

  5. Mark Logan says:

    He was called out for his behavior in this matter because he became a politician, no doubt about it. No way the banks loan out hundreds of millions of dollars without a deep dive into their true worth.

    Pass any large construction project and you will find a “developer” name on the signs, not Bank of America, not Chase, or any other major bank, but those are the people calling the shots. They simply want a middleman to take the heat if things go bad. The credit if they go well? Banks don’t give a damn about that, all they care about is the money. Trump didn’t have to lie on the forms. The buzzards of hubris and narcissism are coming home to roost, and it is only happening because POTUS is an office where character matters and it comes with a 1000 watt bulb and a microscope. He dismissed the risk involved with that…somehow.

    I’d cut him some slack but fact is he did nothing while in office but serve himself and play golf. There’s the real fraud. He doesn’t care about anything else, not really. Becoming a politician was ego stroking and seeking power to enrich himself, that’s it.

    • morongobill says:

      In what way did he enrich himself while president? Prove it. Do what two failed impeachments and years of FBI etc could not not do.

      • TTG says:


        Trump properties charged DoD $1 million and Secret Service $1.4 million. Six foreign governments including China and Saudi Arabia rented three quarters of a million dollars worth of rooms at the Trump Hotel in DC. That’s for starters

        • Fred says:

          Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments rented hotel rooms? OMG I sure hope nobody in office owns Hilton stock.

          • TTG says:


            The rooms and services were rented just before Trump administration decisions favoring those countries such as weapons sales to the Saudis. It was legalized bribery in the same vein as these countries made massive donations to the Clinton Foundation when they thought she was going to be the president.

          • Fred says:


            You mean emoluments which none of the congressional inquiries and impeachments could not find evidence of? Your interpretation of that would mean any financial transaction to a public company where a member of government has ownership prior to a government decision being made is a bribe.

      • Mark Logan says:


        See how much the Saudis gave Jared. Also see how Trump claimed the value of MAL was as high as it was because there are Saudis who would pay him whatever he asked for it.

      • ked says:

        Comer would have better luck chasing down a more recent example of presidential family corruption. to paraphrase Jerry Lewis… & the House Oversight Committee’s Inquiry into Biden’s impeachable offenses (while out of office, no less)… “what about the kids – it’s all about the kids!” Comer would have better luck chasing down more recent examples of presidential family corruption.
        {just fyi; Impeachment is a political act of the Legislative Branch, there is no legal criteria… just votes… & in a better America, more virtuous legislators.}

  6. walrus says:

    If you apply for a personal loan using your car as collateral and stating that the old clunker “runs great” when in reality it needs a new engine, then you have just committed the same offence as Trump.

    • Peter Hug says:

      And if the bank realizes that you did that deliberately, and furthermore that you have an extensive history of doing similar things, they will become quite unhappy.

      • Fred says:


        Only if you stop paying on the loan.

        • LeaNder says:

          Or you unload your loan/s or most of it on your investors.

          • Fred says:


            You’ve obviously not had a bank that is responsible for risk assessment evaluating a loan you applied for.

        • ked says:

          bad analogy from the get-go.
          if you want to reference the car biz (which isn’t the best comparo, but what the heck), Trump’s RE Biz World is more like used car wholesalers rolling back odometers – a fraudulent biz practice raising the value of the properties sold to dealerships. banks “floor-plan” (provide financing) purchase of new & used cars for dealers. wholesalers are legally bound to accurately document the mileage of every car they sell dealers – just as dealers are legally liable not to roll-back or sell rolled-back cars to retail consumer (& consumers must disclose the status of odometer accuracy on private sales via title transfer).
          I know of dealers & wholesalers who’ve gone to prison for repeated fraudulent roll-back of odos (I was in the new / used car biz in the early ’80s). banks, dealers, their ins cos & local / federal DAs (not to mention consumers left holding the empty bag) frown on repeated patterns of egregious law-breaking… a bad biz practice, “politically”.

        • al says:

          Like Trump did with his Chicago bldg!

      • wiz says:

        Peter Hug

        unless the bank is the one doing it to others

    • rick says:

      Well, you have committed about 1/1,000,000 of the same fraud as Trump was found guilty of.

      I used to deal with matters EXACTLY like that: a woman who borrowed $7,000 to buy a car knowing it was unfit for the junkyard, getting a $7,000 bill of sale from a bent dealer who she actually paid $2,000, and pocketing the rest with no intention of paying comes to mind. Being the stable genius she was, she told me allll about this, while she was trying to claw her $2,000 back from the bent dealer because, get this, the car was unsafe.

      She says to me ‘oh i know the bank would be annoyed if they find out…’ I said, “Mam, I am pretty sure that they call that fraud and it’s actually a crime.”

      So my point is, so what if Trump committed the same crime as small timers do all the time? It’s a crime when they do it too.

  7. different clue says:

    If one accepts the view that every real estate developer could be credibly alleged to break all the laws that Trump is alleged to have broken, and that Trump is being singled out for prosecution because of strictly political reasons; then one can respond in one of two ways . . .

    #1: Since every other real estate developer is allowed to get away with all of it, Trump should be
    allowed to get away with all of it too.

    or . . .

    #2: Every other real estate developer should be prosecuted, sued, etc. for what they are
    credibly allegible to have done the very same way that Trump is being prosecuted,
    sued, etc. now.

    I would prefer the rigid application of choice #2 so that we could start moving towards a
    society where none of them are allowed to get away with any of it and such outlaw behavior is stopped by blunt heavy force. Since I don’t ever expect to be rich myself, I have no material interest in supporting the concept that rich people, developers, etc. deserve to live in a special law-free zone of their very own.

    • Mark Logan says:

      Different Clue,

      I would not jump to the conclusion all developers lie to banks. I would not be the least bit surprised if Trump Inc was fairly unique in that practice. Large commercial development, particularly skyscrapers, has been done by many a “developer” who had nothing like collateral which would cover the project if things go bad. Why Trump felt an imperative need to lie to big time real estate lenders, who sure as hell don’t just trust what’s on the application forms when dealing out million$, is a mystery.

      That said, my WAG is this law got put into the books by banks to disincentivize lying on forms for little people, of which there are far too many for the kind of diligence which can be devoted to the Big Boys.

      • different clue says:

        If Trump Inc was unique in its practice of serial lying to banks, then it is the decades of non-prosecution up till now which have been political . . . social upper class solidarity political in which the legal agents of the upper class would rather not take legal action against one of their social class betters’ own members.

        If that is what this is and has been about, then it was Trump himself who stripped away from himself the normal class-political shield of political upper class protection by entering overt electoral politics. If so, he is reaping what he has sown.

        Still, I can’t believe he is the onlyl major real estate player who has done these things. And I would like to see every single one of them prosecuted and/or sued with as much intensity as Trump is being prosecuted/sued with.

        • Mark Logan says:


          Trump’s nearly abject recklessness has been both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness.

          • different clue says:

            Here is a saying which Trump never did live by.

            Careful where you step. The next face you step on could be a land mine.

  8. Billy Roche says:

    Well dog my cats; I d/n know that bank loan officers simply give out loans on the word of the borrower on the value of their collateral. Curious, he, supposedly, did this prior to being elected but the DOIJ and its socialists allies see fit to bring charges against him now, while he is involved in a run for the Presidency. Coincidental I’m sure. BTW, the use of the criminal justice system for the purpose of harassing a citizen is illegal – but not for socialist.

    • TTG says:

      Billy Roche,

      This is a NY civil case not a federal criminal case. NY declined to charge Trump as a criminal felon. All the actions under investigation are NY actions of a NY businessman. The charges are based on fact. The question is only one of legal interpretation.

      • Billy Roche says:

        Charges are just that charges. It does not change the salient point that whether criminal or civil the criminal justice system is not to be used to harass citizens. The State of NY is doing exactly that.

        • TTG says:

          Billy Roche,

          Do you consider any application of criminal or civil law to be harassment? Or is it just that the Trumps must be immune from all laws and regulations? I agree that pursuing baseless charges could be harassment or maybe even a crime itself. But I don’t see any of the cases against Trump as baseless. Arguable and maybe defendable, yes, but not baseless.

          • Billy Roche says:

            You see nothing wrong w/legal destruction of Trump for acts alleged from years ago b/c you dislike his politics;…. free (as in free) mkt capitalism, and America first politics. You have drunk from the poison of the anti-American propaganda press and you don’t even know it. If the recent legal attacks unleashed against the former President were applied to the sordid characters populating the D.C. swamp there w/n be room enough on the court docket for them. The assault on Trump is intended to prevent a candidate, many Americans would like to see run, from running. How anti-American. The only step not yet done is to send socialists opponents to a gulag. A nice gov’t re-eduction camp in N. Dakota or Alaska would do. I don’t think you understand how far from a civil society we have gone. American law, controlled by anti-Americans, is being used to stifle American political choice. This will lead to totalitarianism or national separation. I hope you will be satisfied w/t totalitarian part.

      • Fred says:

        Who is the victim of this alleged crime?

        • Laura Wilson says:

          By devaluing his properties when it came time to pay taxes, Trump was in effect defrauding the people of the state of New York. I pay my required property taxes, you probably pay yours. What’s the deal? Why should anyone not do the same?

        • LeaNder says:

          There must have been many, many he left behind when he had one or the other of his legal business entities file for bankruptcy. None, Fred?

          “I do play with the bankruptcy laws – they’re very good for me” as a tool for trimming debt.[

          As a capitalist, you don’t weep for the investors’ who lost big. Maybe? That’s what investment is all about. You don’t care as long as you don’t have to help save banks with your taxes. And yes, those banks at one point decided not to refinance Trump’s own debt anymore. His share of the debts that were to a large extent written off. “Elite” bias already, then? Bias concerning his expert educational enterprise too?

          But once in a while, it looked as if you and PL had a weak spot for US artisans—the working men in the US. How many of those had to close shop as a result? … None? Business as usual too? Yes, no doubt.

          Ah well, yes: Life isn’t fair. There are only winners and losers. And there is the great populist martyr businessman Zampano, who can read your mind.

          • Fred says:


            Any such took him to court years ago and none are listed in the complaint. Read the judicial opinion. Oh, and enjoy the latest ECB rate hike and be sure to thank Jerome Powell.

          • LeaNder says:


            Any such took him to court years ago and none are listed in the complaint.

            Yes his statement around this topic (economics and law) in his campaign against Clinton were actually rather “refreshing” vs the political non-speak.

            What I find curious is that in spite of all, in the US there seems to be no way out of either Trump or Biden, or Biden or Trump for the other side of the aisle.

        • Fred says:


          Tax assessments of NY real estate are made off bank loan documents? LOL that’s not true nor to be found in the 35 pages of the judge’s ruling. But run with it. Maybe NY shouuld fire every property appraiser working for the state or municipal governments as they haven’t been doing their job all these years.

        • rick says:

          Who is the victim in Huntergate? You seem pretty worked up about that, or was that performative trolling?

    • babelthuap says:

      The American way. Biden is just better at it. I would even argue the best of all time. He can’t be touched. Media, every 3 letter agency, NATO, every corporation, antifa, BLM, unions, WEF, WHO…meh. If you have a problem with it best to keep your mouth shut unless you want to get censored or worse.

      He does have a BRICS problem but that could take another decade to manifest. By that time he will be long gone. So will Trump. The only people who are going to suffer in the end are the youth today. Glad I’m not in that basket. It’s gonna be bad.

      • English Outsider says:

        babelthuap – no idea about the States but I think it’ll be quicker than that here.

      • F&L says:


        Muhammad Ali always characterized his opponents by the animals they reminded him of. I think Sonny Liston, according to Ali, was a bear but it’s been decades, I can’t reliably remember. What was Joe Frazier? Don’t recall, it would be interesting to know, however. About Joe Biden I’ll say two things. One – you’re absolutely right, he’s the absolute emperor in the great hall of horrifying extinct beasts and prehistoric monsters going back to well before the most recent ice age. This includes giant flying vampire pterodactyls, poison fanged reptilian behemoth dragons, tyrannosaurus Rex etc. He makes Trump look like Mary Poppins in 2nd grade. Possibly LBJ could go head to head with him, no one else. (To be fair, Joseph Stalin probably would have to be considered, Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, Attila, Dracula etc but that’s understood).

        So the question is, following Muhammad Ali – “the Greatest” – the question is .. what do we name Joe Biden? Which animal is he? Here’s my entry: The Undertaker.

        Ali carefully explained his animal picks for his pugilistic foes. He based them on visual appearance and behavioral mannerisms. If you’ve taken a careful look or two at Joe Biden – super slim and sleek in his dark blue suits wearing his aviator sunglasses, combed back silver white hair, utterly without any hint of empathy or human sensitivity – then you’ll see the merit in my choice. He’s the quintessential Undertaker, without a doubt.

        Second place for JB’s spirit animal totem name: Slim Shady.

  9. Morongobill says:

    One final comment. I am going to be very interested in the appellate decisions in this case. Not being a lawyer, I don’t know how it will play out. But I seriously doubt that one jurist’s decision will stand and result in this man losing his life’s work. In this case, I am thankful for high powered lawyers. If they get away with this, it will definitely roll down upon the poor folks below.

  10. F&L says:

    Infantry, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Forces Survival Challenge Test.
    Only one entry per person. We are waiving our usual fee.

    The challenge is to do a Google image search on the British defense secretary’s name and choose between these two options:
    A) Trying to survive as a sane human being after viewing the results for five minutes
    B) Sleeping with Eva Braun in the Berlin Bunker and being discovered accidentally by Adolf Hitler who thought he was opening the door to the closet where he kept his collection of the recordings of Wagner’s operas.

    Due to the extreme arduosness of even contemplating the task, we provide our contestants, graciously, with this handy link.

    • F&L says:

      For those who survived we offer:

      The Sphere in Las Vegas

      You’ve earned it. Rhymes with Find Duck (two words, one is uncouth).

      The Science:

      Check out some of the videos of this monstrosity. Unreal.
      Price tag: $2.3 Billion

      And yes, lots of people are homeless and hungry. Las Vegas – gangster paradise.
      But is it really what they say it is? Do you believe it?

      • TTG says:


        The whole strip is tacky as hell. This sphere is just modern tacky. It fits right in.

        • F&L says:

          Uh, well, my highly classified agency had discovered a nuclear war alert for the entire USA scheduled for October 3. That’s real soon. See link. At the link after that one – you’ll see that Volgograd (Stalingrad, Tsaritsyn) is having its alert on Oct 4. I don’t know about you retired Special Forces pansies, but … eeeek!

          Massive emergency alert test scheduled to hit your phone on Wednesday. Here’s what to know.

          Threat of the use of military force”: Volgograd will be taught to live under martial law and the destruction of 70% of the city
          The authorities decided to conduct large-scale exercises in the face of the danger of nuclear power conflicts. Link below in Russian.

          So is the sphere what they say it is? Or have underground experiments in the nevada desert led to a 1950s Sci-fi radiation catastrophe? Are we ready for another attack of the 50 foot tall women? Did the lost continent of Atlantis resurface disguised as an entertainment sphere? Is the Jolly Green Giantess expecting the Jolly Green Giant’s baby? I hope it’s not someone else’s. That could get ugly.

          • TTG says:


            Don’t get your panties in a wad. The last nationwide test was in August 2021. Local broadcast stations test it a lot more often than that. This will be the second time the cellular alert system will be tested.

  11. Poppa Rollo says:

    The apple does not fall far from the tree.
    In 2005 Charles Kushner was convicted of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering, and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, which he served in the Federal Prison Camp, Montgomery. As a convicted felon, he was also disbarred in three states. Upon receiving a pardon from Trump, Charlie boy donated 1 million dollars to Trump’s super pac.
    Charlie is small beer compared to Trump, but 2 years is fair enough.

    • F&L says:

      Good reminder.

      I haven’t read through all the comments here for reasons of time but in the spirit of reminding and time-saving – two words: Roy Cohn.

      Trump was his protege.

      • different clue says:

        I remember seeing Roy Cohn being interviewed on television once. I did not know that he would die of HIV several months later.

        He looked worse than dead. He looked like a slightly melted and moldy animated wax museum statue of himself.

  12. Whitewall says:

    Fraud or the American way? Yes. I have done investment real estate since the late 1980s. My business stayed small enough for me to control as long as I satisfied my investors and bank lenders. Banks required me to submit an up dated financial statement every 18-24 months. Easy to do within the rules of loan examiners and the unwritten ‘rules’ of expanding property values.

    Most business including real estate, equity markets, shadow banking and many others work this way. The ultimate ‘business’ in America today is our government whose first business is just that- business. The allowance for ‘creative valuations’, what some call loopholes, is written within the tax code by members of Congress for themselves, their staff, friends and contributors. For someone to participate in this, like me, I have to use CPAs to fill out my tax forms and other documents to stay under the radar so to speak. Consequently my tax return every April runs between 27 and 29 pages. Without a creative tax code my return need not cover more than about 3 pages.

  13. leith says:

    Pops –

    Montgomery is posh, the cushiest camp in Club Fed. All white, no blacks or Latinos except for a few crooked politicians like JJ Jr. Kushner probably got to play bridge & tennis with the Enron CEO while there and pick his brain for new scams.

    • Poppa Rollo says:

      No golf however and with his businesses closed down he has nothing to brag about except the sheer number of his indictments.

  14. James Nawrocki says:

    Behind every great family fortune, there is a crime…
    Attributed to Honore de Balzac

  15. al says:

    Re today’s Trump civil trial, this was emailed to me with out attribution, so take it for what it’s worth:
    …On the second day of Donald Trump’s bank fraud trial on Tuesday, the New York Attorney General’s investigators began to lay the groundwork to show that the business tycoon’s outside accountants wouldn’t stand by his bogus real estate values.

    The judge was shown agreements Trump made with WeiserMazars, the outside accounting firm he contracted year after year to compile his personal statements of financial condition.

    AG senior enforcement counsel Kevin Wallace presented a notable cautionary warning on the first page of a 2017 engagement letter: “You are responsible for the content of the financial statement, including the estimated current value of assets and the estimated current value of liabilities..”

    The letter later added, “We will not express an opinion or a conclusion nor provide any assurance on the financial statement.”

    The achingly boring testimony of the AG’s first witness, Trump’s longtime outside accountant Donald Bender, inched along at a snail’s pace. But as it went on, it became clear that state investigators are strengthening the case that Trump and his top advisers were responsible for wildly inflating his riches—not his bean counters.

    “Who was responsible for preparing them?” Wallace asked.

    “The Trump Org and the trustees,” Bender responded, referring to a “Trump Revocable Trust” that was setup when Trump became president in 2017.

    In one example, state attorneys pointed to the signatures [plural] of Trump Organization executive Don Jr…
    Looks plain and simple as to who is “responsible” for defrauding NY taxpayers.

    As noted above, if Trump’s claim that his finances did not “hurt” anyone, whose to say Hunter Biden’s action then “hurt” anyone.

  16. al says:

    Trump cannot constrain himself at all! Here he goes off his self created cliff again. Also, adding to Prosecutor Smith’s criminal case agenda for gagging Trump!

    From The Hill:
    Judge issues limited gag order after Trump attacks clerk

    Engoron issued a limited gag order from posting or speaking publicly about members of his staff after Trump released personally-identifying information about his principal clerk on Truth Social.

    The trial judge said “one of the defendants” posted a “disparaging, untrue and personally-identifying post” about his staff, and though the judge ordered it deleted, it had been emailed out to “millions of other recipients.

    Former President Trump targeted the principal law clerk working on his New York fraud trial on his Truth Social account Tuesday while he sat in the courtroom where she was just feet away.

    The former president derided the clerk as “Schumer’s girlfriend” alongside a picture showing her posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

    “Schumer’s girlfriend… is running this case against me. How disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately!!” Trump wrote.

    Trump also linked to the clerk’s Instagram account, which is private. The account indicates she is a prospective candidate for Manhattan Civil Court.

    “Personal attacks on members of my court staff are not appropriate and I will not tolerate it under any circumstance,” Engoron said.

    He added that he warned counsel off the record about the former president’s comment yesterday, but the warning went unheeded.

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