Donald Trump committed fraud and lied about his wealth for many years, rules judge

A judge ruled today that Donald Trump has repeatedly committed fraud since his early days as a real estate developer, regularly lying to banks and other institutions about his assets to game the system. (No wonder he didn't want to show his tax returns.) And as punishment, Judge Arthur Engoron is revoking some of Trump's business licenses in New York, preventing Trump from conducting certain business dealings in the state.

And to ensure the conman stays in line, an independent agent will continue to monitor the Trump Organization's goings-on.

Trump's boys, Eric and Junior, as well as their companies, were also found liable for fraud, according to NBC News.

"A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud," the judge wrote in a 35-page ruling, via NBC News.

"In defendants' world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party's lies," continued Engoron, via AP News.

"That is a is a fantasy world, not the real world."

Today's ruling comes a week before Trump begins his trial in New York to deal with Attorney General Letitia James' lawsuit.

From AP News:

Beyond mere bragging about his riches, Trump, his company and key executives repeatedly lied about them on his annual financial statements, reaping rewards such as favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums, Engoron found.

Those tactics crossed a line and violated the law, the judge said, rejecting Trump's contention that a disclaimer on the financial statements absolved him of any wrongdoing. …

James, a Democrat, sued Trump and the Trump Organization a year ago, alleging a pattern of duplicity that she dubbed "the art of the steal," a twist on the title of Trump's 1987 business memoir "The Art of the Deal."

The lawsuit accused Trump and his company of routinely inflating the value of assets like skyscrapers, golf courses and his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, padding his bottom line by billions. …

James has asked Engoron to ban Trump and his three eldest children from ever again running a company based New York. She also wants Trump and the Trump Organization barred from entering into commercial real estate acquisitions for five years, among other sanctions. The $250 million in penalties she is seeking is the estimated worth of benefits derived from the alleged fraud, she said.