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Appellate judge refuses to halt Trump's $454 million fraud penalty

Judge Anil Singh of the state’s mid-level appeals court ruled Wednesday that Trump must post a bond covering the full amount.
Trump lawyers say he's prepared to post $100 million bond amid appeal
Posted at 1:46 PM, Feb 28, 2024

A New York appellate judge on Wednesday refused to halt collection of Donald Trump's $454 million civil fraud penalty while he appeals, rejecting the former president's request that he be allowed to post a bond covering just a fraction of what he owes.

Judge Anil Singh of the state's mid-level appeals court ruled that Trump must post a bond covering the full amount in order to stop enforcement of the judgment. Singh did grant some of Trump's requests, including pausing a three-year ban on him seeking loans from New York banks — which could help him secure the necessary bond.

Trump's lawyers told the appellate court earlier Wednesday that Trump was prepared to post a $100 million bond, arguing that the lending ban in the Feb. 16 verdict made it impossible for him to secure a bond for the full amount.

Trump's lawyers floated the smaller bond offer in court papers as they sought an order from the appellate court preventing New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office from enforcing the judgment while his appeal plays out. Singh ruled that Trump needs to post the full amount, which would pause collection automatically.

In all, the Republican presidential front-runner and his co-defendants owe more than $465 million to the state. They have until March 25 to secure a stay, a legal mechanism pausing collection while he appeals, or they'll be forced to pay the monetary penalty or risk having some of their assets seized.

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"The exorbitant and punitive amount of the judgment coupled with an unlawful and unconstitutional blanket prohibition on lending transactions would make it impossible to secure and post a complete bond," Trump lawyers Clifford Robert, Alina Habba and Michael Farina wrote in their request.

James' office opposed Trump's plan, saying his lawyers have all but conceded he has "insufficient liquid assets to satisfy the judgment."

"These are precisely the circumstances for which a full bond or deposit is necessary," Senior Assistant Solicitor General Dennis Fan wrote, saying Trump's offer would leave James' office and the state "with substantial shortfalls" if the verdict is upheld.

"A prevailing plaintiff is entitled to have her award secured, and defendants have never demonstrated that Mr. Trump's liquid assets could satisfy the full amount of the judgment," Fan wrote.

James, a Democrat, has said that she will seek to seize some of Trump's assets if he's unable to pay the judgment.

Judge Arthur Engoron found that Trump, his company and top executives, including his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr., schemed for years to deceive banks and insurers by inflating his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make deals.

Among other penalties, the judge put strict limitations on the ability of Trump's company, the Trump Organization, to do business. Paperwork making the judgment official was filed on Feb. 23. That started a 30-day window for Trump to pay up or file an appeal and seek a stay.

Also Wednesday, white powder was found in an envelope addressed to Engoron at his Manhattan courthouse. Officials said preliminary testing showed it was negative for hazardous substances and no injuries were reported.

In January, hours before closing arguments in the case, authorities responded to a bomb threat at the judge’s home. Engoron's chambers have reported hundreds of harassing and threatening calls, emails, letters and packages since the start of Trump’s trial in October.

Trump filed his appeal on Monday. His lawyers are asking the Appellate Division of the state's trial court to decide whether Engoron "committed errors of law and/or fact" and whether he abused his discretion or "acted in excess" of his jurisdiction.

Trump wasn't required to pay his penalty or post a bond in order to appeal, and filing the appeal did not automatically halt enforcement of the judgment.

Trump would receive an automatic stay if he were to put up money, assets or an appeal bond covering what he owes. He also had the option, which he's now exercising, to ask the appeals court to grant a stay with a bond for a lower amount.

Trump lawyers argued that Trump's vast real estate assets and oversight mandated by Engoron's ruling, including supervision of his company by an independent monitor, "would alone be sufficient to adequately secure any judgment affirmed."

The $100 million bond, they said, "would simply serve as further security."

Trump maintains that he is worth several billion dollars and testified last year that he had about $400 million in cash, in addition to properties and other investments.

In all, Trump has at least $543.4 million in personal legal liabilities from Engoron's ruling and two other civil court judgments in the last year.

In January, a jury ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. That's on top of the $5 million a jury awarded Carroll in a related trial last year.


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