NY AG says she’ll seize Trump’s property if he can’t pay $454M

NEW YORK — Donald Trump could be at risk of losing some of his prized properties if he can’t pay his staggering New York civil fraud penalty. With interest, he owes the state nearly $454 million — and the amount is going up $87,502 each day until he pays.

New York Attorney General Letitia James told ABC News on Tuesday that she will seek to seize some of the former president’s assets if he’s unable to cover the bill from Judge Arthur Engoron’s Feb. 16 ruling.

Engoron concluded that Trump lied for years about his wealth as he built the real estate empire that vaulted him to stardom and the White House. Trump denies wrongdoing and has vowed to appeal.

“If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court, and we will ask the judge to seize his assets,” James, a Democrat, said in an interview with ABC reporter Aaron Katersky.

Trump’s ability to pay his mounting legal debts is increasingly murky after back-to-back courtroom losses. In January, a jury ordered him to pay $83.3 million for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll.

Trump claimed last year that he has about $400 million in cash — reserves that would get eaten up by his court penalties. The rest of his net worth, which he says is several billion dollars, is tied up in golf courses, skyscrapers and other properties, along with investments and other holdings.

But don’t expect James to try to grab the keys to Trump Tower or Mar-a-Lago immediately. Trump’s promised appeal is likely to halt collection of his penalty while the process plays out.

Here’s a look at where things stand in the wake of Trump’s costly verdict.

Could the state really

seize Trump’s assets?

Yes. If Trump isn’t able to pay, the state “could levy and sell his assets, lien his real property, and garnish anyone who owes him money,” Syracuse University Law Professor Gregory Germain said.

Seizing assets is a common legal tactic when a defendant can’t access enough cash to pay a civil penalty. In a famous example, O.J. Simpson’s Heisman Trophy was seized and sold at auction in 1999 to cover part of a $33.5 million wrongful death judgment against him.

Trump could avoid losing assets to seizure if he has enough cash — or is able to free up enough cash — to pay his penalty and mounting interest.

How much he has isn’t clear because most information about Trump’s finances comes from Trump himself via his government disclosures and the annual financial statements that Engoron has deemed fraudulent.

Trump reported having about $294 million in cash or cash equivalents on his most recent annual financial statement for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

After that, according to state lawyers, he added about $186.8 million from selling the lease on his Washington hotel in May 2022 and the rights to manage a New York City golf course in June 2023. Part of Trump’s penalty requires that he give those proceeds to the state, plus interest.

Engoron’s decision last week spared Trump’s real estate empire from what the Republican front-runner deemed the “corporate death penalty,” reversing a prior ruling and opting to leave his company in business, albeit with severe restrictions including oversight from a court-appointed monitor.

James didn’t specify to ABC which of Trump’s assets the state might want to seize, though she noted that her office happens to be right across the street from a Trump-owned office building in Lower Manhattan that was the subject of some of the fraud allegations in her lawsuit.

“We are prepared to make sure that the judgment is paid to New Yorkers,” James told ABC. “And yes, I look at 40 Wall Street each and every day.”

With Trump promising to appeal, it’s unlikely he’ll have to pay the penalty — or face the prospect of having some of his assets seized — for a while. If he wins, he might not have to pay anything.


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