Donald Trump Must Disclose Profits He Made From Fake University, Judge Rules

Trump apparently made thousands from students that were promised his university would help them be successful
Trump apparently made thousands from students that were promised his university would help them be successful
via Shutterstock

Donald Trump must disclose how much money he made from his so-called Trump University, San Diego U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled this week.

The judge ruled that one of several plaintiffs that had signed up for Trump U is allowed to question the current GOP presidential candidate about the profit he made, whether directly or indirectly, from Trump University.

The Trump Institute of Boca Raton, which at one point was called Trump University, is no longer in operation. But it did make some money hosting seminars around the country and promising people that they too could become as successful as Trump.

In 2013, consumer complaints filed in Florida said students paid $1,200 to $1,400 for classes, including books, DVDs, and CDs emblazoned with Trump's face. One-on-one coaching costs extra, and some pupils paid $20,000 or more.

Among some of the promises made through promotional letters sent to interested students from the now defunct Trump University:

"If you're serious about making money and safeguarding your future, learn to invest in real estate. Trump University will teach you how. We'll give you the best training and the confidence to succeed. If you think you've got what it takes to be my next Apprentice, come prove it to me and my team."

A month after the complaints were filed, New York attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a fraud suit against Trump and demanded that the real estate mogul repay $40 million in fees collected from about 5,000 students. 

The suit claimed that Trump used his celebrity status in commercials to sell the seminars, while making false promises for lessons students who forked over thousands never received. Trump called Schneiderman a "hack" in response to the suit.

Yet, with Trump seemingly earning a victory in court over Schneiderman, Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Kern did authorize the case to go forward. This didn't stop Trump from trash talking Schneiderman on Twitter.

Nine months after that tweet, Trump lost to Schneiderman in court when a judge ruled that The Donald was personally liable for running the university without a license.

That same month, in 2014, a former student of the university, Andy Cohen, sued Trump.

In his suit, Cohen claimed that Trump "devised and executed a scheme to make tens of millions of dollars" without producing what was promised.

On Tuesday, Curiel ruled that Trump's financial transactions involving Trump University are reverent in this case, saying in his ruling that "(T)he amount of money Trump made from Trump University and the extent to which he controlled decisions about how the school was run and when distributions were made to him bear on Trump's self-interest and represents evidence of possible bias." 

Trump, in an attempt to distance himself from the controversy, has claimed that the university was not his, but merely had his name attached to it.

But this only seemed to solidify Cohen's case. In his suit, Cohen claims that he paid more than $36,000 to be a part of Trump U only to find that Trump himself wouldn't teach the seminars, nor would he be a part of choosing the curriculum or instructors.

In his ruling, Curiel added that Trump failed to show "that a broad federal right to financial privacy exists that bars discovery regarding any financial transactions of a defendant accused of defrauding large numbers of people." 

"Thus, Trump's payments to, and receipt of funds from, Trump University would be relevant to supporting plaintiffs' claims," Curiel said.

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