New York Judge Orders Former President Trump to Pay $355 Million in Civil Fraud Case

A New York judge has handed down a significant ruling in a civil fraud case against former President Donald Trump, compelling him to pay nearly $355 million in penalties. This decision by Judge Arthur Engoron, outlined in a comprehensive 92-page document, follows weeks of closing arguments that concluded a lengthy trial, marked by frequent criticism from Trump towards both the judge and the prosecuting attorney.

In 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Trump, alleging that he manipulated his net worth on crucial financial statements to obtain favorable tax and insurance benefits. The documents, providing details on the Trump Organization’s assets, were submitted to banks and insurers to secure loans and deals, presenting a case for fraud according to the state.

The potential financial burden on Trump and his business, including interest, may surpass $450 million, as indicated by the New York attorney general’s office. Engoron held Trump, the Trump Organization, and key executives, including his adult sons, liable for fraud before the trial began, as there was no jury present.

The imposed fine is slightly less than the $370 million sought by the attorney general’s office, and it also entails a three-year ban preventing Trump from engaging in New York business activities. Furthermore, Trump’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, were individually ordered to pay over $4 million each, accompanied by a two-year prohibition from serving as officers or directors of any New York corporation or legal entity.

Former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg faced a $1 million penalty, along with a three-year ban from New York business. Both Weisselberg and former controller Jeffrey McConney were also prohibited for life from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or business entity. Additionally, the judge extended the term of the independent monitor overseeing Trump’s business for three years and appointed an “Independent Director of Compliance.”

However, the judge overturned a pre-trial decision that ordered the cancellation of the defendants’ business certificates, stating that the order could potentially be renewed.

In response to the ruling, Attorney General Letitia James hailed it as a “tremendous victory” for the state and the nation, emphasizing the importance of holding powerful individuals accountable for dishonest practices that impact hardworking citizens.

“When powerful people cheat to get better loans, it comes at the expense of honest and hardworking people. Now, Donald Trump is finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating, and staggering fraud,” James remarked, emphasizing that no one is above the law.

Despite the substantial penalties, Trump’s legal team decried the ruling. Alina Habba, Trump’s lawyer, labeled it a “manifest injustice” and the outcome of a “multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt.” Chris Kise, Trump’s lead lawyer, characterized the case as an “unjust political crusade” against a leading presidential candidate and criticized the process as unfair and tyrannical. Kise confirmed that Trump would appeal the decision.

The trial spanned over two months, featuring testimony from 40 witnesses, including Michael Cohen, a former fixer for Trump, top Trump Organization executives, Trump’s adult children, and the former president himself. Trump’s defense rested on the argument that there was no fraud, with Deutsche Bank executives testifying that they conducted their own due diligence and found no evidence of fraud when working with the Trump Organization.

The strained relationship between Trump and Judge Engoron was evident early on when the judge ruled on Trump’s fraud liability. During Trump’s testimony in November, he launched attacks on the judge and Attorney General James, referring to them as “frauds,” “political hacks,” and “Trump haters.” Engoron had to admonish a Trump lawyer at one point, reminding him that the trial was not a political rally.

The financial ramifications of the $354.8 million judgment, coupled with another $83.3 million judgment against Trump for defamation, are expected to impact his estimated net worth significantly. Forbes estimates Trump’s wealth at $2.6 billion, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index values him at $3.1 billion. These judgments could potentially result in a loss of 13 percent or more of his estimated net worth if these figures hold true.

Legal fees are also mounting for Trump, with approximately $50 million spent on legal consulting in 2023 by his fundraising committees. Notably, more than $18 million of this amount was allocated to lawyers Chris Kise, Alina Habba, and Clifford Robert, who represented Trump in the fraud case and other legal matters.

As Trump faces increasing legal challenges, including criminal cases and impending appeals in civil cases, the financial and legal implications of these recent judgments add another layer of complexity to his post-presidential life.

Hindu Temples in San Francisco Bay Area Face Vandalism, Prompts

Call for Increased Security

In the span of two weeks, three Hindu temples in the San Francisco Bay Area have fallen victim to acts of vandalism, raising concerns among Hindu advocates about the safety and security of temples across the United States. The incidents have prompted a call for heightened vigilance and security measures within the Hindu community.

On January 5, Vijay’s Sherawali Temple in Hayward, California, experienced an act of vandalism when the entrance sign was spray-painted with the phrases “Modi is a terrorist” and “Khalistan Zindabad” (Khalistan Forever). Khalistan represents the aspiration of Sikh separatists for an independent state carved out of the Indian state of Punjab. This incident follows an earlier burglary at the Shiv Durga Temple of Santa Clara on January 1, where three perpetrators were captured on camera stealing gold jewelry from the temple’s idols and donation boxes.

Sunil Khanna, president of the Santa Clara temple’s board, expressed shock at the incident, emphasizing the community’s belief that temples are invulnerable. He highlighted the emotional impact, stating, “The main thing that hurt all of us was how they misbehaved with the gods.”

The Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Newark, California, faced a different form of desecration on December 23, with a vulgarity aimed at Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, defacing the premises. Jonathan Arguello, police captain for the city of Newark, indicated that the act appeared to be targeted, leading to a commitment to a thorough investigation.

These attacks are part of a concerning trend of anti-Hindu hate crimes, according to Ramya Ramakrishnan of the Hindu American Foundation. She noted the impact on community members, saying, “This is supposed to be a safe place where you go to pray and get peace of mind. But this holy and sacred space is now being violated.”

The recent wave of vandalism follows previous incidents, including an attack on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco and the vandalism of a Mahatma Gandhi statue in New York. These occurrences point to a growing pattern of anti-Hindu sentiments and actions.

The incidents also coincide with charges by the U.S. Department of Justice in November, accusing an Indian government official of plotting to murder Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York. The Canadian prime minister’s office had earlier accused India of involvement in the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Pro-Khalistani vandalism has been ongoing since at least March 2023 when protesters in San Francisco entered the Indian Consulate, displaying Khalistani flags. A subsequent arson attack in July further highlighted the issue. Despite these incidents, law enforcement has emphasized the criminal nature of vandalism against diplomatic facilities without explicitly addressing Sikh separatism.

Anti-Khalistani activist Puneet Sahani highlighted the need for the Hindu and Sikh communities to address separatist sentiments, referencing a 2021 incident in Queens where Khalistani rhetoric was spray-painted. Sahani expressed concern that Hindu organizations might avoid speaking out against the Khalistan movement due to fears of being labeled anti-Sikh. He emphasized the importance of addressing extremists within the community.

Ramakrishnan pointed out that Hinduphobia is yet to be fully recognized by law enforcement, calling for increased federal-level efforts. While local authorities have responded promptly to recent crimes, she stressed the need for broader recognition and swifter action, comparing the incidents to potential reactions if they had occurred in synagogues or mosques.

The Hindu American Foundation, the largest Hindu advocacy organization in the U.S., regularly provides resources for temples to enhance security measures. These resources include a manual with information on safety assessments, education on security measures ranging from CCTV cameras to alarms, and a call for reporting all incidents to prevent Hinduphobia-related crimes from going unnoticed.

“We really want our Hindu community to be aware that this is happening in your backyard,” Ramakrishnan said. “Not to be afraid, but to face this. We need to be united as a community.”

Sunil Khanna, determined to rebuild, aims to lead a consortium for Bay Area Hindu temples, advocating for recognition of the community’s unity in the face of these attacks. He emphasized resilience, stating, “No temple should close their doors… This is a time to stand up and rebel against the negative forces.”

Hillary Clinton During Visit To IIT Gandhinagar, Urges Students To Shut Off Social Media To Have Time For Self-Reflection

Known globally for her humanitarian outlook and advocacy for social justice and women’s rights, former First Lady and Secretary of State of the United States of (US) and philanthropist Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) as a part of her India visit and interacted with faculty, students, and the larger IITGN community. She was joined by senior officials of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

During a town hall at the Institute titled “Insights from Her Journey”, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasised the need to take climate action and adopt sustainable alternate solutions in our day-to-day lives.

Picture : TheUNN

Citing an example from her visit to a salt pan farm, where women are using solar-powered pumps, she expressed confidence in India’s ability to meet the alternate energy needs and said, “Alternative clean energy is India’s future, and it would not burden the country, but instead, it can reduce costs and generate more income for the communities. Today India is well-positioned to adopt clean energy to achieve economic growth. But it requires organisation from the public sector, the private sector, and civil society. So, with creative thinking, scientific know-how through institutions like IITGN, bringing down the costs of such alternatives, and decentralising, I really believe that the opportunity for India in being a leader in clean energy is so dramatically available.”

Hillary Clinton during the town hall at IIT Gandhinagar

The former first woman Senator from New York state also underscored the importance of higher education to prepare young people for tomorrow and said, “Education at all levels is the key to the continuing effort for economic and social equality and justice. And higher education is very important to prepare our young generation for future endeavours. It is at the heart of how we continue to provide opportunity, and so it is important to open higher education to as many students as possible with a variety of educational institutions.”

Picture : TheUNN

She also encouraged girls and women to develop enough resilience and support each other in dealing with adversity, “Dealing with adversity is a challenge regardless of gender, but as women, we must develop enough resilience and confidence to go through the adversity. It requires constant preparation all through your life. And it cannot happen overnight; it can be built through childhood and young adulthood. So it is important that parents express confidence in their children and provide an impartial upbringing. My parents had given equal opportunity to me and my two brothers and expected us to stand up for ourselves and be responsible. So from a very young age, I was given an opportunity to pursue my interest and develop my own path in life. Women in professional and public life realise that sexism and misogyny are still around, and sadly it has become quite redolent on social media, which has become a new challenge that we have not confronted before. So, it is important that other women support women who are adversely affected.”

Answering a question from one of the students about key lessons and takeaways from the Covid-19 pandemic, Secretary Clinton said, “There are several lessons, but most importantly, 1) We need to have supply chains in our countries and immediate regions so that we are not dependent and are able to provide what we need; 2) We have to do a much better job in communicating public health messages. There is a lot of uncertainty, which is
understandable at the start of such a Global pandemic, but we didn’t really communicate effectively with large portions of our population. India and the United States did a great and quick job in bringing vaccines to the market compared to other countries.

But we have to have global responses to curb it, and every country, especially China, has to be more open and transparent in sharing accurate information in real-time. They cannot continue to guard information the rest of the world needs to know; 3) We need to be smarter about getting enough access to healthcare that people might need if it happens again. Public health infrastructure should not collapse when an emergency hits. The whole world should come together and try to cooperate about how we are going to prepare for whatever comes next.”

Sharing her thoughts on the importance of self-reflection and introspection while being in leadership roles, Secretary Clinton said, “We are living in such a fast-paced world and being overstimulated by information as well as misinformation. So I think it’s especially important to shut off social media and your phone in order to have that time for self-reflection. Do an activity like arts, exercise or just a walk in nature without any other digital distractions, which helps you relax and distress.”

Secretary Clinton also shared a few anecdotes from her college life and motivation to keep going in her professional career in public service. Welcoming the distinguished guest, Prof Rajat Moona, Director, IITGN, said, “It is a matter of great honour to host Secretary Hillary Clinton at IIT Gandhinagar today, who has done immense work for various communities around the world. It is this philosophy of improving lives and giving back that has guided the endeavors of IIT Gandhinagar over the years. We believe in adopting a global outlook in our academic and research activities and applying it to address some global as well as regional challenges. Our effort has been to equip our students not only with cutting-edge scientific and technological knowledge but also social empathy.”

Earlier to her interactive town hall, which was moderated by Prof Bhaskar Datta, Secretary Hillary Clinton also visited Palaj village and appreciated significant efforts of the Desai Foundation (one of the Commitment Makers being recognized by Clinton Global Initiative) and their initiatives along with their partnership with IITGN’s social outreach programmes, NEEV and NYASA, in impacting rural youth, women, and communities through skilling,
entrepreneurship, and health programs.

Through the grassroots-level training projects, mentoring, and networking opportunities provided by NEEV, youth and women from these areas have been able to earn a sustainable livelihood and support their families. Through health camps organized by NYASA and its team of student volunteers, hundreds of residents of nearby villages are provided free medical check-ups by expert physicians, orthopaedics, gynaecologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists and dentists. The beneficiaries are also provided free medicines, spectacles, and essential information related to health and nutrition.

Prof Harish P M, Dean of General Administration, who also coordinated the entire event at IITGN, said, “Our students and community members were eagerly looking forward to hearing from Secretary Clinton, and we were all delighted that she could take time out of her hectic visit to speak to the students. Both her journey and her words were a source of great inspiration for many of our students. Her words of appreciation for our social outreach programme NEEV and student initiative NYASA along with our partnership with Desai Foundation have given us a great impetus to continue creating a more inclusive environment.”

As a gesture of gratitude for spending time with IITGN students, Secretary Clinton was honored with thoughtful gifts as a memory from IITGN, including “Meghadutam – The Cloud Message”, a book having an English translation of the famous lyrical poem by classical Sanskrit poet and dramatist Kalidasa, by Prof Srinivas Reddy, a Guest Professor at IITGN, and an indo-western jacket made using exquisite Mashru silk with traditional Ajrakh print, specially designed and crafted for the guest by artisans of NEEV-IITGN.

Secretary Clinton was in India to help advance Clinton Global Initiative – CGI’s Commitments to Action that are providing employment opportunities and critical health care services to girls and women, while also providing critical support for climate resilience in the region. These Commitments were made by members of the CGI community at the CGI 2022 Meeting, which resulted in 144 new Commitments to Action addressing climate resilience, global health equity, inclusive economic growth, the global refugee crisis, and other critical global challenges.

The Desai Foundation, an IIT Gandhinagar partner in their work to engage students + teachers in social work in the nearby areas, welcomed Secretary Clinton to Palaj village. Here she saw three of their flagship programmes – Heroes for Humanity, a programme born from the COVID pandemic that employs 500 local village residents and provides them with training to deliver local programming. This programme was a part of CGI’s Commitments to Action at the CGI 2022 Meeting. The second is their flagship Asani Sanitary Napkin and Menstrual Equity Programme. And lastly, the Desai Foundation Health Camp, in collaboration with the IITGNNYASA students, a programme that brings healthcare to rural communities.

Vikas Kumar Vikash And Pejavar Murari Named Among The 75 Pride Of India Awardees

Chicago, IL: February 11, 2023 The Global Strategic Alliance G.S.A. India @75 Expo USA announced the Pride of India awards being presented to 75 outstanding Indians from different walks of life for their impactful work to celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. An initiative of  Indian diaspora from Chicago, U.S.A.

 

Vikash Kumar Vikash, IPS, Inspector General Of Police and Managing Director of Mysore Sales International Ltd, MSIL, Bangalore was named as one of the 75 Pride of India awardees for his dynamic leadership in MSIL’s outstanding growth postcovid particularly in promoting the use of renewable energy and aggressive marketing which made MSIL successfully venture into the tourism and hospitality sector which reaped profits.

 

Pejavar Murari, IAS (Retd), Adviser to the President of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industries, FICCI, New Delhi, India was also awarded in recognition of his distinguished career in the Indian Administrative Service including being the former Secretary to President of India, R. Venkataraman. The citation recalled Murari’s entrepreneurial leadership including being the current Chairman of ABAN Offshore Ltd, Chairman, Advisory Board Lochan & Company and Chairman, Lepra India Trust, New Delhi. Murari also serves as the Director of Bajaj Auto, Xpro India, Idea Cellular and Fortis Mallar. Murari is also on the Governing Council of Loyola Institute of Business Administration, LIBA Chennai and the Business Advisory Council of Great Lakes Institute of Management.

 

Ms. Seeta Bala, G.S.A. Awards Jury Chair announced the other Pride of India awards including 17year old Aryan Lakshmanan, Grade 11 Student, L’école Chempaka School, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Praful Billore, CEO, MBA Chaiwala, Indore, India, Dr. Chitti R. Moorthy, Radiation Oncologist, Westchester, New York, Madhu Uppal, Community Activist, Naperville, Illinois, Dr. Paul Dhinakaran, Chancellor, Karunya University, Coimbatore, India, Cottalango Leon, 2016 Academy Award Winner, Scientific & Tech Achievement in Animation, Los Angeles, Rajkumar Rajappa, Chairman, President NHEL Small Scale Industries Association, Trichy, Tamil Nadu, Ms. Geeta Radhakrishnan, CPA, New York, Dr. Sambhu Banik, Eminent Clinical Psychologist & Former Member, Presidential Commission on Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Washington D.C., USA, Sukhpal Singh Dhanoa, White House Correspondent & Bureau Chief PTC News, Washington, D.C., Ms. Rajeswari Rajagopal, Kids Education Counselor, Surakhsha Bhuja Foundation, Chennai, Tamil- Nadu, Ravi Karkara, Global Champion of Sustainability, New York, Tenkasi ‘s Ananthan Ayyasamy, State Vice President, Tamil Nadu BJP Party, Padmashri S.V. Rama Rao, eminent Artiste & Educationalist, Palos Hills, Illinois, Simarpreet Singh, CEO, Hartek Solar, New Delhi, Manav Subodh, Founder- Global Ambassador UC Berkeley & Founder 1M1B, New Delhi, Usha Boddapu, CEO/Founder, Esolvit, Austin, Texas, Padmanabhan Venkatesan, Treasurer, World Federation of Tamil Youth, Phoenix, Arizona, 25 year old Ulhas Satyanarayan, Member, India’s Basketball Team, New Delhi, & First Indian to play in European Professional Basketball League, Moldovia, Sushil Mitruka, Chairman and Managing Director of Kusum Udyog Ltd & Group of Industries, Siliguri, India, Shweta Baid, First Indian Alderwoman of Aurora City, IL, Thirumala Kumbum, CEO, Value Financial Services, Texas and Dr. Mohammed Jameel, Member Illinois Physician Disciplinary Board, Springfield, IL among others.

 

Dr. Vijay G Prabhakar, President, GSA India@75 Expo USA said that this epic one of kind Expo brought together ANCIENT INDIA and NEW INDIA on a single platform that included a vibrant tradeshow, meaningful daily workshops, informative plenary sessions on India’s growth, interactive sessions on Yoga, Meditation, & Ayurveda and a rich cultural extravaganza of India’s dance and music.

 

Dr. Ajit Pant, Chairman, GSA India@75 Expo USA said that the three day Expo held from December 15 to 17, 2022 at Lisle, Naperville was the most impactful event of 2022. Dr Pant added that the Expo Sequel will be held in six major cities including New York, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, San Francisco and Washington D.C. throughout 2023.

 

Shree Gurusamy, CEO GSA India@75 Expo USA that the theme is Made in India Made for the World and that the showcasing of India will continue through Amrit Kaal, the next 25 years.

 

26 year old Sailesh Singh, Founder of Youth 2047, Siliguri India declared that GSA India@100 Expo will be celebrated in 2047 in the U.S.A and India. Dr. Vasavi Chakka, Dean of the Global Eye International Institute of Leadership, New York announced that short term Leadership Training Programs to focus on U.S.A – India relationships in six sectors starting from June 2023 will be conducted to create tomorrow’s inclusive leaders today. This will be an excellent opportunity for both Indians and Indian diaspora throughout the world to interact with the U.S. Congressional leadership and network with experts in the different sectors, added Dr Chakka.

 

Seeta Bala, G.S.A. India Expo Awards Jury Chair said that the Pride of India Awardees will be given annually to outstanding Indians including the Indian diaspora under different categories in recognition of their inclusive leadership to empower our Community. Seeta Bala added that the impactful G.S.A. India @75 Expo is hosting Sequels across North America, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Australia Continents throughout Amrit Kaal.

 

Nominations for 2023 G.S.A Pride of India Awards can be emailed to [email protected] on or before April 22, 2023.

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