Trump Persuaded Struggling People to Invest in Scams, Lawsuit Says

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Those business entities were ACN,

 

Maggie Haberman and Benjamin Weiser
c.2018 New York Times News Service

 
NEW YORK — A new lawsuit accuses President Donald Trump, his company and three of his children of using the Trump name to entice vulnerable people to invest in sham business opportunities.
 
Filed in federal court in Manhattan on Monday, the lawsuit comes just days before the midterm elections, raising questions about whether its timing is politically motivated. It is being underwritten by a nonprofit whose chairman has been a donor to Democratic candidates.
 
 
The allegations take aim at the heart of Trump’s personal narrative that he is a successful deal-maker who built a durable business, charging he and his family lent their name to a series of scams.
The 160-page complaint alleges that Trump and his family received secret payments from three business entities in exchange for promoting them as legitimate opportunities, when in reality they were get-rich-quick schemes that harmed investors, many of whom were unsophisticated and struggling financially.
 
Those business entities were ACN, a telecommunications marketing company that paid Trump millions of dollars to endorse its products; the Trump Network, a vitamin marketing enterprise; and the Trump Institute, which the suit said offered “extravagantly priced multiday training seminars” on Trump’s real estate “secrets.”
 
The four plaintiffs, who were identified only with pseudonyms like Jane Doe, depict the Trump Organization as a racketeering enterprise that defrauded thousands of people for years as the president turned from construction to licensing his name for profit. The suit also names Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump as defendants.
 
A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, said the allegations were completely meritless and relate to events that happened a decade ago.
 
“This is clearly just another effort by opponents of the President to use the court system to advance a political agenda,” Garten said. He noted the plaintiffs’ lawyers have longstanding and deep ties to the Democratic Party and waited to file until just before the election. “Their motivations are as plain as day.”
 
Asked about the suit’s timing, the lawyers for the plaintiffs, Roberta A. Kaplan and Andrew G. Celli Jr., said their firms had conducted a lengthy investigation and the plaintiffs were eager to file.