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Judge Won't Halt Trump's $454M Penalty 02/29 06:20

   A New York appellate judge on Wednesday refused to halt collection of Donald 
Trump's $454 million civil fraud penalty while he appeals, leaving the former 
president less than a month to pay the staggering sum or secure a bond covering 
the full amount he owes.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York appellate judge on Wednesday refused to halt 
collection of Donald Trump's $454 million civil fraud penalty while he appeals, 
leaving the former president less than a month to pay the staggering sum or 
secure a bond covering the full amount he owes.

   Judge Anil Singh of the state's mid-level appeals court rejected Trump's 
offer of a $100 million bond, though he did give Trump leeway that could help 
him secure the necessary bond before New York Attorney General Letitia James 
seeks to enforce the judgment starting March 25.

   Singh granted a stay pausing part of Judge Arthur Engoron's Feb. 16 verdict 
that barred Trump, his company and co-defendants from borrowing money from New 
York financial institutions. The Republican presidential front-runner's lawyers 
had told the appellate court earlier Wednesday that the lending ban had made it 
impossible for him to secure a bond for the full amount.

   Trump's lawyers warned he may need to sell some properties to cover the 
penalty and would have no way of getting them back if he is successful in his 
appeal. State lawyers said those disclosures suggested Trump -- who has more 
than a half-billion dollars in pending court debt -- was having trouble coming 
up with enough cash to foot the bill. The penalty is increasing by nearly 
$112,000 each day because of interest and will eclipse $455 million on Saturday.

   Trump's lawyers proposed their smaller bond amount in court papers asking 
the appellate court for an order preventing James' office from enforcing the 
judgment while his appeal plays out. Singh, sitting in the Appellate Division 
of the state's trial court, ruled after an emergency hearing Wednesday.

   Singh's decision is temporary. A five-judge appellate panel will consider 
Trump's request on an expedited basis, with a ruling expected in a few weeks. 
State lawyers must submit paperwork by March 11. Trump's lawyers have until 
March 18 to respond.

   In all, Trump and his co-defendants owe more than $465 million to the state. 
They have until March 25 to secure a stay -- a legal mechanism pausing 
collection while he appeals the underlying verdict -- before they are forced to 
pay the penalty or risk having assets seized. Posting a bond in the full amount 
would trigger an automatic stay.

   "The exorbitant and punitive amount of the judgment coupled with an unlawful 
and unconstitutional blanket prohibition on lending transactions would make it 
impossible to secure and post a complete bond," Trump lawyers Clifford Robert, 
Alina Habba and Michael Farina wrote in court papers detailing the $100 million 
bond offer.

   James' office opposed Trump's plan, saying his lawyers have all but conceded 
he has "insufficient liquid assets to satisfy the judgment."

   "These are precisely the circumstances for which a full bond or deposit is 
necessary," Senior Assistant Solicitor General Dennis Fan wrote, saying Trump's 
offer would leave James' office and the state "with substantial shortfalls" if 
the verdict is upheld.

   "A prevailing plaintiff is entitled to have her award secured, and 
defendants have never demonstrated that Mr. Trump's liquid assets could satisfy 
the full amount of the judgment," Fan wrote.

   James, a Democrat, has said that she will seek to seize some of Trump's 
assets if he's unable to pay the judgment.

   Engoron found that Trump, his company and top executives, including his sons 
Eric and Donald Trump Jr., schemed for years to deceive banks and insurers by 
inflating his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make 
deals.

   Paperwork making the judgment official was filed on Feb. 23. That started a 
30-day window for Trump to pay up or file an appeal and seek a stay.

   Also Wednesday, white powder was found in an envelope addressed to Engoron 
at his Manhattan courthouse. Officials said preliminary testing showed it was 
negative for hazardous substances and no injuries were reported.

   Trump filed his appeal on Monday. In their notices of appeal, his lawyers 
said they want the appellate court to decide whether Engoron "committed errors 
of law and/or fact" and whether he abused his discretion or "acted in excess" 
of his jurisdiction.

   Trump wasn't required to pay his penalty or post a bond in order to appeal, 
and filing the appeal did not automatically halt enforcement of the judgment.

   Trump would receive an automatic stay if he were to put up money, assets or 
an appeal bond covering what he owes. He also had the option to ask the appeals 
court to grant a stay with a bond for a lower amount -- a gambit rejected 
Wednesday.

   Trump's lawyers argued that his vast real estate assets and oversight 
mandated by Engoron's ruling, including supervision of his company by an 
independent monitor, "would alone be sufficient to adequately secure any 
judgment affirmed."

   The $100 million bond, they said, "would simply serve as further security."

   Trump's lawyers did not ask to pause the monitor's oversight, but Singh did 
halt some other sanctions affecting the Trump Organization, at least 
temporarily.

   The appellate judge paused Engoron's two-year ban on Eric and Donald Trump 
Jr. holding executive positions in New York corporations, meaning they can 
continue running the company. He also paused a similar three-year ban that 
applied to Trump, but said the company must move forward with hiring an 
independent compliance director to ensure it follows financial reporting 
obligations and rules.

   Trump maintains that he is worth several billion dollars and testified last 
year that he had about $400 million in cash, in addition to properties and 
other investments, but his legal bills are piling up.

   In all, Trump has at least $543.4 million in personal legal liabilities from 
Engoron's ruling and two other civil court judgments in the last year.

   In January, a jury ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean 
Carroll for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of sexually assaulting 
her in the 1990s. Trump was also ordered to pay Carroll $5 million a jury 
awarded Carroll in a related trial last year. He denies the allegations.

 
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