Donald Trump testifies in Fort Lauderdale civil trial
Business magnate gets special parking, treatment at courthouse
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Donald Trump testified in his own defense Monday in a civil trial alleging he defrauded buyers of a Fort Lauderdale beachfront resort that fell into foreclosure.
The 24-story Trump International Hotel & Tower remains unfinished and empty.
"I was disappointed in the project," Trump testified.
Two buyers, Michael Goodson and John Taglieri, are suing Trump for a total of about $250,000 in deposit money that wasn't returned on units they purchased in the beachfront behemoth. Their attorney, Jared Beck, alleges that both men bought the units because of misleading advertising that made it appear Trump was the developer when in reality he had only a management licensing deal in the project.
"The whole reason that my clients got involved in this deal to begin with was Mr. Trump's representation as being the developer of this project," Beck told Local 10.
In those ads Trump refers to the project as "my latest development" and his own "creation" when, in fact, he had no control over the project.
"I do licensing deals all over the world," Trump said. "And I'm not the developer in those jobs."
Trump also countered on the stand that the development's prospectus clearly listed the actual developer.
"I think it went really well," Trump said of his testimony.
Trump was then escorted by three deputies into a restricted hallway usually reserved for judges.
In fact, Trump was given special treatment by the Broward Sheriff's Office during the entire day, starting when he was allowed to park his luxury Maybach automobile in a restricted parking lot reserved for judges, which allowed him to avoid courthouse lines and metal detectors.
From there, he was escorted in a special entryway for judges all the way to the eighth floor of the courthouse.
BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said staff at the courthouse made the decision for public safety.
"We wanted to make sure there was no disruption," she said.
Trump did not want to talk about his courthouse treatment when questioned about it.
"You'll have to ask these fellas," Trump said, pointing to the three deputies escorting him.
Closing arguments are expected Tuesday morning.
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