NY AG Letitia James lays groundwork to seize Trump assets ahead of looming fraud penalty deadline

Molly Crane-Newman | New York Daily News

NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James has taken another step toward potentially going after Donald Trump’s assets as struggles to find money to cover his $454 million civil fraud penalty.

The former president has until Monday to secure the eye-popping sum in a court-controlled account and stave off the AG going after his assets as his appeal continues. Trump has asked a mid-level appellate court to pause the judgment issued Feb. 16 by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron from taking effect while he appeals.

On Monday, his lawyers wrote to the appeals court saying it had proven impossible to secure the money from a bonding company. Last month, he failed to convince them to let him pay less for now — $100 million.

Lawyers for the AG, who has said she’s prepared to go after Trump’s namesake properties if needed, formally registered judgments requiring Trump and his former top executives to pay out millions with the Westchester County clerk on March 6. That laid the groundwork for securing liens on Trump’s assets if needed in the New York City suburb — where his 212-acre Seven Springs estate and golf course are located.

The AG’s Westchester filings, first reported by Bloomberg, don’t necessarily signal that James plans to go after Trump’s assets there first. The documents merely notified Westchester that one of its property owners — Trump — was on the hook for an enormous debt, a formality in the case. She didn’t need to file the same kind of papers in Manhattan, since that’s where the trial took place.

Trump took to Truth Social to lament the looming deadline.

“That is CRAZY! If I sold assets, and then won the Appeal, the assets would be forever gone. Also, putting up money before an Appeal is VERY EXPENSIVE. When I win the Appeal, all of that money is gone, and I would have done nothing wrong,” he stated.

The Republican frontrunner for president owes most of the sum handed down by Engoron — $454 million and counting — with his former executives, Allen Weisselberg, Jeffrey McConney, and sons Eric and Don Jr. on the hook for the remainder. The judge’s ruling found them liable for multiple fraud claims in James’ September 2022 lawsuit for habitually inflating Trump’s net worth in business deals for years by as high as $3.6 billion annually. On top of the devastating financial repercussions, the ruling prohibited Trump from running a New York business for three years, locked his sons for two, and permanently barred Weisselberg and McConney from handling an Empire State company’s finances again.

Engoron on Thursday outlined the broadened powers of retired Judge Barbara Jones, whom he appointed to monitor Trump’s company’s financial dealings in November 2022. In his February ruling, he decided to keep her monitorship in place for three years.

Jones will review all internal accounting controls, governance, record-keeping and financial reporting policies and procedures at the Trump Organization until March 21, 2027, Engoron wrote, to ensure that they’re accurate. She can enlist outside help if she needs it, all fees for which Trump must pay.

Trump’s company has 30 days from Thursday to provide Jones with whatever information she needs to access the company’s internal controls. She has 60 days to provide Engoron with a report assessing her findings and recommend a new independent director of compliance, who will assist and report to her.

The company can’t transfer more than $5 million or make other financial moves without Jones’ knowledge. The judge said Jones would issue quarterly reports on the company, which she can share with Trump but doesn’t have to.

Trump’s lawyers in the AG case did not return calls seeking comment. James’ office declined to comment.

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