SSAT is looking at coughing up real money

Judge Arthur Engoron handed down his judgment in the New York civil fraud trial of serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) brought by New York state attorney general Letitia James alleging that SSAT, his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, and his company indulged in fraudulent business practices. They had already been found guilty of fraud in an earlier trial and this part of the process was to determine the extent of the fraud and what fines, if any, they would pay.

It was hefty.

James had asked for $370 million and Engoron awarded $364 million. Engoron also “barred SSAT and and two other executives from serving as officers or directors of any corporation or entity in New York for three years. His sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr, were banned for two years.” He is also “ordering the appointment of two court monitors to oversee the business: former judge Barbara Jones, and an independent compliance director to ensure “good financial and accounting practices””.

The judge was scathing in his opinion.

The former president “rarely responded to the questions asked, and he frequently interjected long, irrelevant speeches on issues far beyond the scope of the trial,” Engoron wrote in his 92-page decision. “His refusal to answer the questions directly, or in some cases, at all, severely compromised his credibility.”

The judge was equally unsparing in his assessment of the evidence provided by Trump’s eldest sons, who have led the Trump Organization since their father entered the White House in 2017.
Eric Trump “severely damaged” his credibility on the stand, according to Engoron, by repeatedly denying that he had known before the case arose that his father had compiled financial statements valuing his assets and net worth.

Only when confronted with “copious” documentary evidence that he had known about the financial statements as early as August 2013 did Eric Trump “begrudgingly” acknowledge that it “appears” he had known, the judge noted.

On the stand, Donald Trump Jr claimed he did not know how or why Weisselberg left the business after being criminally indicted. The court found this “entirely unbelievable,” Engoron said.

Trump and his sons as witnesses also argued that it was the job of their outside accountants to get the financial statements right. But Engoron pointed out that there was “overwhelming evidence adduced at trial demonstrating that [the accounting firms] relied on the Trump Organization, not vice versa, to be truthful and accurate, and they had a right to do so”.

“The buck for being truthful … stopped with the Trump Organization, not the accountants,” Engoron wrote.

“Absolute perfection, including with numbers, exists only in heaven,” Engoron wrote. “If fraud is insignificant, then, like most things in life, it just does not matter.”

But these frauds were not merely significant: they “leap off the page and shock the conscience,” he continued.

In the face of this, what truly rankled Engoron was Trump and his allies’ refusal to acknowledge almost all the errors at the heart of this case. “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” the judge wrote. “They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money.

“The documents prove this over and over again.

One wonders why SSAT and his lawyer Alina Habba went out of their way to irritate the judge during the trial, even to extent of attacking his aide. Yes, it may have played well to his supporters but it still seems foolish to me.

SSAT’s costs are steadily rising. The first E. Jean Carroll trial resulted in $5 million in damages. The second Carroll trial resulted in $83.3 million. And now this one makes a total of $452 million. SSAT will appeal but to do so requires him to put in escrow 110% of the amount pending the results of the appeal. That amounts to almost $500 million. He can choose to put up the full amount himself or get a private company to put up a surety on his behalf. This bond company explains what is involved.

An appeal bond or supersedeas bond is a type of safety net bond, which is in place to protect the court from frivolous appeals that would cost the court time and money. In other words, it protects the court from being abused by individuals who could file an appeal to stall the payment of the court-ordered sum. An appeal is a request from one of the parties in a case to have the final judgment reviewed by a higher court because they believe the verdict is wrong and should be changed. The appeal bond is required under the Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 7 by the appellant, who is the one appealing the judgement of the court. The appeal court bond is required to ensure the responsible party will pay the court-mandated sum if the appeal fails. This bond is typically in the amount of the original judgment, but could be more and may also include interest.

The cost of an appeal surety bond varies from case to case. Typically, the amount the appellant will be responsible for is 1-2% of the surety bond amount that is needed. For example, if the appeal bond is in the amount of $1,000,000 then it would cost between $10,000 and $20,000 annually. Unlike other surety bonds, the applicant’s credit score doesn’t affect the cost of the bond because collateral for 100% of the bond amount must be posted in order to qualify for an appeal, which is the initial judgement amount. Requiring full collateral from an appellant is in place to discourage anyone from abusing the appeals court system. Since the price is high for making an appeal, it will persuade them against it unless it is necessary.

In the first Carroll. case, SSAT apparently put up the $5.5 million himself. It is not clear if this is because he did not want to pay the 1% fee ($55,000) to the bond company or because no bond company was willing to take the risk for such a large amount on behalf of someone notorious for not paying his bills. Suing SSAT for not paying the company would be a tedious and expensive process.

The size of these later two judgments will make it even more difficult for SSAT to find a bond company to provide surety even if he wanted to do so and so SSAT may have to cough up $500 million himself. Although he constantly boasts about how rich he is, and he is surely worth more than that, it is not clear how much ready cash he has at his disposal or whether he might have to sell some assets to meet the obligation.

While SSAT has been raising money to pay his legal bills, federal law prevents someone from using campaign funds to pay for personal expenses. Legal niceties have not prevented SSAT from violating the law before but now he will be under very close scrutiny and even a notorious scofflaw like him might think twice before putting himself in further legal jeopardy.


  1. Matt G says

    Apparently someone has started a GoFundMe for him. Nothing surprises me anymore. Maybe Deutsche Bank will ride to his rescue. Or Putin. Or the Saudis.

    Digging his heels in is standard practice for people like him. He has bullied his way through his entire life, so why stop using what has always worked?

  2. ardipithecus says

    The $355 million is only the court penalty. It does not include disgorgements (return of ill gotten gains) and interest, which James says will make it over $450 million. I don’t know if the appeals bond applies to all of it, or only the penalty.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    “SSAT’s costs are steadily rising”

    Oh yeah? Out of curiosity, how much of what he owes has he paid out so far? And how much of what he owes do you think he will end up paying? (pro-tip: anyone answering 100% or anything close can safely be ignored as a fantasist)

  4. nomenexrecto says

    The problem is that the first excrement-american to get elected president might not actually be all that much of a billionaire, but rather a stooge who launders billions for the russian mafia led by Vladimir Putin.
    Who is careful enough to keep his distance of late…

  5. says

    Whatever money he ever actually pays, if any, I hope someone does a deep dive to trace the exact source of it. The public needs to know where “his” money is coming from.

  6. John Morales says

    Lawyers ain’t cheap, either, nor are paid “expert” witnesses:

    In the footnotes on one of the 92 pages, Justice Engoron mentions how much one of Trump’s expert witness was paid.

    Eli Bartov, a professor at New York University, was used by Trump’s legal team to talk about financial accounting, credit analysis and valuation.

    The footnote says Bartov “bills at the rate of $1,350 per hour and has billed approximately 650 hours in this engagement”. That’s $877,500 Bartov was paid for his testimony.

    So how was his expertise received by Engoron?

    Well, the justice said: “By doggedly attempting to justify every misstatement, Professor Bartov lost all credibility in the eyes of the court”.

    Engoron specifically mentions Bartov’s comments about the triplex penthouse in Trump Tower.

    “Bartov insisted that the misrepresentation of the Triplex, resulting in a $200m overvaluation, was not intentional or material (leading the court to wonder in what universe is $200m immaterial).”

  7. ardipithecus says

    @ 7

    Yet . . .

    @4 sonofrojblake

    If Donnie wants to appeal, he has to put up enough collateral so that if he loses the appeal, the courts can ensure he pays whatever the result. I think the only way he gets out of paying is if he forgoes appealing and just stalls, which is what he is best at.

    Apparently, he put up his own $5 million to appeal the first EJC verdict. From what I’ve read, he couldn’t find a bondsman to take a chance on him. A rep for not paying bills can suck sometimes.
    He may not even be able to appeal the latest award. He only has 30 days.

  8. johnson catman says

    The Orange Felon just needs to sell almost 900,000 pairs of his “Never Surrender High-Tops” for $399 a pop, or maybe a little more than 3,500,000 of his “Victory47” cologne, or some combination of those, to raise that $350M. Of course, the sneakers are probably cheap shit that will fall apart on the first wearing, and the cologne probably has the stink that reportedly surrounds him, but to his devoted cult members, it is worth it.

  9. sonofrojblake says

    Saw this on Bluesky: “before 2015 it would have been very conspicuously bizarre for a presidential candidate in the middle of primary season to take time out to launch a line of licensed branded sneakers for personal profit”

  10. Hans Tholstrup says

    This does seem like a winning strategy to me. Keep on suing SSAT in NY, where everyone hates the rat bastard. I reckon we can work his total payouts up past the billion mark if people stay focused 🙂

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