(NEW YORK) — A judge declined Tuesday to move the trial date for a civil lawsuit filed against former President Donald Trump, his eldest children and his company by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleging they duped banks and insurers by inflating the value of Trump’s real estate portfolio.
Trump’s legal team sought the delay but Judge Arthur Engoron said there was no need to postpone what he called a “seemingly simple case” of whether Trump’s disclosures to his lenders and insurers, known as statements of financial condition, were accurate or not.
“The issue is whether the statements were false,” Engoron said. “This case is complex, but it is not complicated.”
Trump has denied wrongdoing and cast the lawsuit as politically motivated by the New York attorney general.
The trial is scheduled to start on Oct. 2
Trump’s attorneys also sought the court’s permission to take depositions from more than 30 witnesses, which the attorney general’s office called an excessive “fishing expedition.”
“We’re asking for a fair opportunity,” defense attorney Christopher Kise said. “They’ve had three years to talk to 80 people plus.”
The attorney general’s office filed a $250 million civil lawsuit in September alleging the Trumps altered the values of their holdings to suit different business purposes like arranging loans or applying for tax breaks.
The lawsuit accused them of engaging in “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation in the preparation of Mr. Trump’s annual statements of financial condition” that overstated the values of nearly every major property in the Trump portfolio over at least a 10-year period.
“These acts of fraud and misrepresentation grossly inflated Mr. Trump’s personal net worth as reported in the Statements by billions of dollars and conveyed false and misleading impressions to financial counterparties about how the Statements were prepared,” the lawsuit said.
The judge has already rejected several defenses, including what Engoron called the “everyone was doing it” defense.
“You don’t have to have an accounting degree,” Engoron said. “A triplex apartment is worth less money if it’s 11,000, not 30,000 square feet,” referring to an allegation in the state’s 214-page complaint that Trump overvalued his apartment in Trump Tower. Until he moved to Florida, Trump lived in an 11,000-square-foot triplex. From 2012 to 2016, Trump represented the size of the apartment to be 30,000 square feet and valued it as high as $327 million, according to the lawsuit.
Trump is defending himself in the civil suit as he awaits a possible criminal indictment.
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