Plaintiffs in a proposed class action lawsuit against former President, Donald J. Trump and others, previously filed in New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, received the Court’s permission today to amend their complaint to include a cause of action for alleged violations of “RICO”, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. §1962). New York State Supreme Court Justice Richard J. Montelione granted the plaintiffs’ motion to amend the complaint, which had been unopposed by all the defendants, with the exception of the former president who has yet to appear in the action.
The amended complaint now alleges that members of the Trump Family utilized their family’s real estate enterprise to unlawfully inflate the rents of at least 14,000 rent-regulated apartments in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island on a grand-scale from 1992 through 2004. Using the mails, the members of the conspiracy submitted inflated invoices for the purchase of building supplies and capital improvements through numerous business entities and associates, which included the family’s own accountants, to state regulators as justification for unlawful increases in rent. Once the increases received state-approval, the co-conspirators mailed fraudulent leases, rent bills or lease renewals for illegal sums of rent to the tenants of their rent-regulated buildings.
The Court’s order allows plaintiffs to name additional defendants in the lawsuit, such as the estate of the Trump Family patriarch, Fred Trump; tax advisor Jack Mitnick; the accounting firm at the center of Donald J. Trump’s tax-return saga, Mazars USA; as well as a dozen present and former owners and management companies claimed to have participated in or profited from the rent overcharge scheme. The order further permits the plaintiffs to assert new RICO causes of action against individual members of the Trump Family, including Donald J. Trump and his sisters Elizabeth Trump Grau and Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired United States federal judge. RICO is an all-encompassing federal statute passed by Congress in 1970 with the declared purpose of seeking to eradicate organized crime in the United States. To accomplish that purpose, RICO includes not only criminal penalties but also civil cause of action for damages recognized by both state and federal courts.
Today’s order further directs service of the amended complaint upon counsel for all defendants but directs personal service upon Donald J. Trump as a result of the former President’s failure to appear in the action. While personally serving the former president might seem difficult, counsel for the class action plaintiffs, Parker Waichman LLP, has learned that the Palm Beach County (Florida) Sherriff’s Office, whose jurisdiction includes Mar-a-Lago, designated a special gate at the premises for the service of legal documents, where Trump employees accept the former president’s paperwork in the ever-growing number of lawsuits and investigations against him. Founding partner of Parker Waichman LLP, Jerrold S. Parker, leaves no doubt that Trump will cannot dodge the class action plaintiffs’ claims: “In this country, no one is above the law. Whether he lives in Washington D.C., Mar-a-Lago, or the five boroughs, our justice system will reach him. “
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