On his way out of office, Donald Trump has been hit by a class action lawsuit alleging a fraud scheme underlying rent increases at Trump Organization properties. The lawsuit alleges that, beginning in the 1990s, the Trump Organization artificially spiked the costs of improvements at New York apartment properties, and, under state law, these high apartment improvement costs gave the company a green light to significantly raise rents. The lawsuit covers “more than 30 buildings previously owned and managed by the Trumps in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island,” The Washington Post explains. Defendants include, besides Donald, his deceased brother Robert and his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, along with companies that are presently in charge at the properties, on account of their alleged profiteering from the fraud that the Trumps allegedly perpetrated.
Staggeringly, the new lawsuit covers alleged fraud at a whopping at least 14,000 apartments involving “several hundred thousand tenants,” according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs. Lawyer Jerrold S. Parker, who’s representing tenants in the new case against the Trumps, commented as follows:
‘This is a massive fraud spanning 28 years, victimizing several hundred thousand tenants in Trump regulated apartments and needs to be addressed. These regulated tenants, many of whom struggle just to pay the rent and put food on the table, must be made whole for the money that was unlawfully and unknowingly taken from them by the Trump family for their own personal gain.’
According to the Post, the new lawsuit against the Trumps alleges that “Trump and his family used All County Building Supply to create doctored invoices reflecting inflated costs of improvements and resold items such as stoves and refrigerators to themselves for more money than they were worth.” Allegedly, Donald’s own late cousin John Walter crafted the allegedly fraudulent All County Building Supply invoices that underpinned the Trumps’ scheme. Allegedly reselling appliances “to themselves” for spiked prices in order to artificially drive up improvement costs is galling fraud against tenants on the part of the Trumps. They could owe millions if determined to be at fault.
Besides this case, which plaintiffs filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, Donald also faces potential legal challenges including a civil investigation from New York state Attorney General Letitia James and a criminal investigation from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, both of whom are looking into potential financial fraud at the Trump Organization. Once out of office, Trump will no longer have the potential protections from criminal proceedings provided by the presidency.