Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Trump niece files suit saying family cheated her of millions

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2020 | 1:09 PM
This September 23, 2020, file photo shows President Donald Trump speaking during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s niece followed up her best-selling, tell-all book with a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the president and two of his siblings cheated her out of millions of dollars over several decades while squeezing her out of the family business.

Mary L. Trump sought unspecified damages in the lawsuit, filed in a state court in New York City.

“Fraud was not just the family business — it was a way of life,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleged the president, his brother Robert, and a sister, the former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, portrayed themselves as Mary Trump’s protectors while secretly taking her share of minority interests in the family’s extensive real estate holdings. Robert Trump died last month.

Messages seeking comment were sent to the Justice Department and lawyers for the president. Messages also were sent to a lawyer for Robert Trump and to email addresses listed for Maryanne Trump Barry.

Mary Trump and her brother, Fred Trump III, inherited various real estate business interests when her father, Fred Trump Jr., died in 1981 at 42 after a struggle with alcoholism. Mary Trump was 16 at the time.

According to the lawsuit, Donald Trump and his siblings devalued Mary Trump’s interests, which included a share of hundreds of New York City apartments, by millions of dollars even before Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump Sr., died on June 25, 1999.

After the family patriarch’s death, Mary Trump and her brother filed objections to the will and Donald Trump and his siblings “ratcheted up the pressure” to settle by cutting off health insurance to their niece and nephew, the lawsuit said.

It said the action amounted to “unfathomable cruelty” because Fred Trump III’s third child, born hours after Fred Trump Sr.’s funeral, was having seizures and required extensive medical care including months in a neonatal intensive care unit.

As they pressured Mary Trump to accept a settlement and relinquish all interests in the Trump businesses, the uncles and aunt provided fraudulent accounting and financial statements that misrepresented the value of their father’s estate at $30 million or less, the lawsuit said.

“In reality, Mary’s Interests were worth tens of millions of dollars more than what Defendants represented to her and what she received,” the lawsuit said.

In keeping with a confidentiality clause in a settlement of the dispute over Fred Trump Sr.’s will, lawyers for Mary Trump refused to say how much she received. But the numbers provided in Thursday’s lawsuit make it unlikely that she would have received more than several million dollars.

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