New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Wednesday (Sept. 21) charging former president Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and his sons Donald Jr. and Eric and officers of his company of fraudulently manipulating property valuations.
"There cannot be different rules for different people in this country or in this state,” said James in announcing the lawsuit. She said that the Trump Organization and the named individuals were successful in tricking banks and insurance brokers into offering better loan rates and insurances to ultimately lower- by millions of dollars- the company’s tax liability.
James also took the step of requesting that the New York Supreme Court bar Trump, and his three named children, from serving as executives at any company in New York, and also to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring any commercial real estate or receiving loans from any New York-registered financial institution for five years.
In addition to naming Trump and his children, also named are Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, and Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s longtime chief financial officer. Weisselberg pleaded guilty to multiple tax crimes earlier this summer.
The lawsuit itself is not a criminal prosecution, but James said she has submitted evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing to the Justice Department and the IRS. James says due to the Trumps’ deceptive practices, New York state should be owed more than $250 million.
The 222-page civil complaint points to the organization’s pattern of inflating the values of properties and claiming they took up far more acres than in reality, and massively inflating the number of potential homes that could be built on them. James said in her news conference that despite arguments that real estate is often valued at estimated rates, the pattern displayed by the Trump Organization couldn’t be dismissed as a “good faith mistake.”
Demanding that the twice-impeached former president and his family must be held to the same standards as regular citizens, James pointed out that it is illegal for people to lie to banks to obtain loans to send their children to college or get a mortgage.
James even took the opportunity to make fun of the title of Donald Trump’s book. She said, “Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal!”