Trump labeled a racketeer and conspirator. Perhaps that's how he made his billions.
By Elizabeth Warmerdam
Donald Trump must disclose how much money he made from Trump University, in the discovery phase of a RICO class action accusing him of defrauding students of millions of dollars, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel on Tuesday ruled that Trump's financial transactions involving Trump University are relevant to lead plaintiff Art Cohen's claims.
Curiel sustained Cohen's objections to Magistrate Judge William Gallo's discovery ruling this month that Cohen not be allowed to question Trump about the capital contributions he made directly or indirectly to Trump University.
In his October 2013 lawsuit , Cohen claims that Trump "devised and executed a scheme to make tens of millions of dollars" by misrepresenting that Trump University was an actual university taught by a faculty of professors at least partly selected by Trump himself.
Trump claimed that Trump University would teach some of his real estate investing secrets. The class was certified in October 2014.
To lure students, Trump spent up to $6 million a year on a national advertising campaign, which included YouTube, email, website and postal mail solicitations, the complaint states.
Cohen says he paid more than $36,000 for the program before realizing that Trump does not teach students his real estate investing secrets, contribute in any meaningful way to the curriculum, or handpick the instructors.
Judge Curiel found that evidence of Trump's profits is relevant and discoverable.
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," Curiel ruled.
Cohen claims that Trump had substantial control over the university, provided the operating capital, participated in its operations and management, and made money from it.
"Thus, Trump's payments to, and receipt of funds from, Trump University would be relevant to supporting plaintiffs' claims," Curiel ruled. He added that such information is not readily available to Cohen outside of discovery.