The activist judge who issued a stunning devaluation of former President Donald Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago estate was in good spirits Monday before the New York fraud trial began.
State prosecutors representing the New York attorney general’s office accused the real estate mogul of artificial asset inflation to obtain financial benefits such as generous loan terms. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who campaigned on a platform to prosecute Trump, filed the $250 million civil case last year.
“For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them. Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples of this misconduct,” James said in a press release when filing the suit.
The lawsuit piles on to the cascade of litigation handed down to the former president during his third run for the White House. Beyond civil fraud charges wherein conviction would expel him from doing business in New York, Democrats are seeking jail time with 91 counts across federal and local indictments. The fraud charges, on their own, represent how Democrats have turned to lawfare to strip political opponents of livelihoods.
Last week, 74-year-old Justice Arthur F. Engoron of the New York Supreme Court 1st Judicial District in Manhattan found the Republican presidential frontrunner liable for illegally inflating assets in a summary judgment. In his ruling, Justice Engoron claimed the former president’s finances “clearly contain fraudulent valuations.” One such valuation, Engoron concluded was inflated, was the Trump palace at Mar-a-Lago, the only property at Palm Beach to face the waterfront on both the ocean and the waterway. While Trump valued the property between $426 million and $612 million, the judge in New York claimed the estate was only worth between $18 and $28 million.
The New York Post outlined how the breathtaking devaluation stunned Palm Beach real estate insiders who claim the property is worth far more than the Manhattan judge’s estimate.
“One prominent Palm Beach real estate broker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Post, ‘It’s utterly delusional to think that property is only worth $18 million,'” the paper reported.
“If that property were on the market today, I would list it at around $300 million, minimum … at least. He also has the separate golf course minutes away,” the broker added.
Engoron relied on an appraisal from the Palm Beach County Assessor to make his claim. Much smaller properties in Palm Beach, however, have sold for far more than the local assessor’s evaluation. Rush Limbaugh’s former residence, for example, which rests on less than 3 acres, sold for $155 million despite being appraised at $51 million. Trump’s property at Mar-a-Lago spans 20 acres of prime real estate.
Trump called the trial “ridiculous” in brief remarks upon exiting the courtroom Monday afternoon.
“It’s a disgraceful trial put forward by an attorney general who is corrupt,” Trump said. “We’re going to be here for months with a judge that already made up his mind. It’s ridiculous.”