Donald Trump not guilty in civil trial, but another lawsuit looms

Trump faces another suit alleging he misrepresented himself as developer

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Donald Trump has been found not guilty of deceptive business practices as it relates to the foreclosed Trump International Hotel & Tower on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

The verdict was announced Wednesday in civil court.

"We're very delighted with the results," Trump attorney Herman Russomanno told Local 10.

Two plaintiffs, John Taglieri and Michael Goodson, sued Trump for $250,000 for unreturned deposits on units in the foreclosed building, alleging Trump falsely claimed he was the project developer when, in fact, he only had a licensing deal for use of his name.

Trump wasn't there for the verdict, but he testified in the trial Monday.

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During his testimony, Trump and Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld had some unusually intimate moments, including a joke in front of the jury as Trump left the stand.

"You may step down, sir. You're excused. You're fired," the judge told Trump, eliciting laughter in the courtroom.

Trump may have little time to enjoy this legal victory.

A similar but much larger case involving the same beach development and 81 plaintiffs is set to go to trial later this year. Joseph Altschul said Wednesday's verdict would have no impact on his case, in which the unit buyers are demanding the return of $8 million in unreturned deposits.

"I don't think there's any questions that the materials were misleading -- the sales materials that were given to the buyers," Altschul said.

Trump, who did represent himself as the developer in advertising, testified that legal documents like the contract and prospectus showed otherwise.

"Even a non-sophisticated buyer would read very carefully a prospectus because that's ultimately what you're buying," Trump said.

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