Judge rejects Trump’s bid to substitute $100M bond for $464M penalty in N.Y. fraud case

A New York appeals court judge has rejected a plea by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to postpone the implementation of the recent $464 million verdict against him, his sons, and his company.

Instead of the statutorily required full amount, Trump’s lawyers requested the judge to permit him to post a $100 million bond.

Justice Anil C. Singh declined the plea to lower the bond amount in a concise ruling following an urgent hearing. However, he did grant certain requests made by the Trumps, such as the permission to borrow money. Trump’s legal team contended that the current restriction was hindering their ability to secure the bond.

Singh’s order is only temporary and will remain in place until a complete panel of appeals court judges makes a final decision.

According to a recent filing with the state Appellate Division, the legal team representing Trump has stated that it would be “impossible” for the billionaire to post the full amount due to the restrictions outlined in Judge Arthur Engoron’s ruling. This ruling is a result of the civil fraud case brought against Trump by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“The filing stated that the excessive and harsh Judgment, along with an illegal and unconstitutional ban on lending transactions, would render it extremely difficult to obtain and submit a full bond. Nevertheless, the appellants intend to secure and post a bond worth $100 million,” the document revealed.

According to Trump attorney Clifford Robert, if the reduction is not granted, they would be required to post a bond exceeding the $464 million judgment amount. In the filing, he explained that to cover post-judgment interest and appeal costs, a surety typically sets the bond amount at 120% or more of the judgment. Consequently, the total bond required would surpass $500 million.

Trump’s lawyers argue that without a stay on the lowered bond amount, they would be forced to sell properties to raise capital in urgent situations. They also express concern that if the appeal is successful, there would be no way to recover any property that has been sold, leading to financial losses that cannot be recovered from the Attorney General.

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James’ office denied the request.

James, speaking on behalf of the defendants, argues that their willingness to offer a partial undertaking of less than a quarter of the judgment amount should be considered sufficient, rendering a full bond or deposit unnecessary. However, Senior Assistant Solicitor General Dennis Fan dismisses this claim, stating that there is no merit to it.

According to Fan’s filing, the defendants have essentially acknowledged that Mr. Trump does not have enough liquid assets to pay off the judgment. It is clear that they would need to raise capital in order to do so. Therefore, Fan argues that a full bond or deposit is necessary in such circumstances. Furthermore, Fan adds that there is a significant risk that the defendants may try to avoid or hinder the enforcement of the judgment after the appeal.

Last week, the court officially entered a $464 million judgment against Trump, marking the beginning of a 30-day period for him to post a bond in order to halt any collection efforts by James’ office. This total amount includes the prejudgment interest that had accumulated on Engoron’s original award of over $350 million against Trump and the Trump Organization. The award was a result of their practice of inflating their assets to secure bank loans at lower interest rates than they were eligible for. If the interest remains unpaid, it will continue to grow at a rate of over $114,000 per day until it is either paid off or Trump succeeds in his appeal.

Singh’s order has established an accelerated briefing schedule for Trump’s stay motion, requiring final filings by March 18. This timeline suggests that the full court may make a decision before Trump is required to file the bond.

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Trump’s attorneys argued in their filing on Wednesday that the award given by Engoron should have been around $100 million instead. They pointed out that there were numerous errors in the judgment, stating that over $350 million of the total disgorgement amount of nearly $465 million is actually barred by the statute of limitations.

The Attorney General’s office stated that the judge has already dismissed those arguments and it is probable that the appeals court will also reject them.

In a recent development, Trump’s legal team has officially filed an appeal in the case. They are seeking a review of Judge Engoron’s judgment, questioning whether he made any errors of law or fact, and if he abused his discretion or exceeded his jurisdiction. The lawyers described the judgment as “staggering” in their filing on Wednesday.

In New York federal court, Trump is currently dealing with a comparable problem. He recently received an $83 million defamation verdict, and it was officially entered on Feb. 8. The clock is now ticking for him to post a bond in that case, as the 30-day period is running out.

According to a court filing on Friday, Donald Trump’s lawyers have requested an extension of the deadline for him to post a bond in a defamation case. They have asked the judge to grant them 30 days after the post-trial motions are decided, in order to reduce the size of the verdict. Alternatively, they have requested permission to post a bond that is a fraction of the total amount of the judgment.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, in a recent ruling, expressed his intention to postpone making a decision on the matter until he has heard from E. Jean Carroll’s lawyers, the writer whom Trump is accused of defaming. Judge Kaplan emphasized the importance of providing Carroll with a fair chance to present her case before any stay, particularly an unsecured one, can be granted.

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Carroll’s legal team is anticipated to provide a response by Thursday, following which Trump’s lawyers will be given two days to counter their arguments.

During his deposition in the civil fraud case, which took place on April 13, Trump confidently stated that his company possessed a significant amount of cash. He expressed his belief that they had well over 400 million dollars in cash, which he acknowledged was quite substantial for a developer. Trump emphasized that developers typically do not hold large amounts of cash, but instead, their wealth is tied up in assets. However, he proudly claimed that his company had a substantial cash reserve, and he believed it was steadily increasing each month.

According to a 2021 financial statement submitted as evidence, Trump stated that he possessed approximately $293.8 million in “cash and cash equivalents.” However, the Attorney General’s office clarified that this amount included $93 million in non-liquid assets. Trump’s net worth, as indicated in the financial statement, was estimated to be around $4.5 billion.

During the deposition, Trump emphasized that they had not accounted for the substantial brand value, which amounted to billions of dollars.

He mentioned, “If I wanted to showcase an impressive statement, I might have incorporated around $10 billion to enhance the brand.”

Adam Reiss, an esteemed reporter and producer, lends his talents to NBC and MSNBC.

Lisa Rubin, a former litigator, currently serves as an MSNBC legal correspondent.

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