Let’s say you want to take out a home equity loan.
You get your house appraised at $350,000, and submit that to the bank in your loan application. But the bank does its due diligence and has its own appraisal done, which comes in at $295,000. They bank offers you loan at that valuation. You take it.
A few years later you’ve paid off the loan. You got whatever it was you needed that loan for, the bank got its money back plus a profit. Everyone’s happy, right?
Ah, but for some reason you’ve earned the ire of your local prosecutor. Could be you’re a local gadfly who annoyed the county commissioners with FOIA requests about a dubious “development project” that never happened, but funneled off millions of dollars into someone’s pocket(s). Maybe you’re just rich, and they want your money without passing new tax legislation.
So the DA subpoenas bank records. He sees that you “fraudulently” claimed your house was worth more than he thinks it should be. He files fraud charges against you.
It goes to court. Before the actual trial phase begins — before any evidence is entered or witnesses testify — the judge simply declares that your house is only worth $35,000, and that you did commit fraud. Now the trial proceeds, with you pre-convicted.
The bank’s confused loan officer testifies that doing their own appraisal and basing the loan on that is normal. He testifies that the bank made money and is happy.
But the judge — you weren’t allowed a jury trial, after all — convicts you, based on his own unsupported estimate of your house’s worth; a mere tenth of what everyone in the home loan business says it’s worth.
And he fines you $350,000.
That could never happen, right? Wrong. That is exactly what New York did to Trump, albeit on a grander scale.
But you’re safe, right? You aren’t some major(ly) divisive public figure, or running a yuuge corporation.
But maybe you run a gun store in an anti-gun state… like New York. And you once took out a business loan. And paid it off. Well, well, well… there’s a way for an anti-gun DA to shut you down without any any pesky 2A challenges that Associate Justice Thomas might find to be appropriate. Store closed, you prohibited from ever doing business in the state again. And one happy anti-gun DA.
Or perhaps your pretty property was adjacent to a county park that they’d like to expand. Eminent domain proceedings can get so messy, and the county would have to pay you something for your land. But wave the magical loan fraud wand, and they get the property and your money, easy peasy.
If you live in New York state, and the Engoron precedent stands, get out! No one is safe.
Oh, you think you are, because you haven’t taken out any loans?
Got a credit card? I haven’t looked at a credit card application in years, but they used to ask your annual income. You didn’t round up to neat round number, did you? Say $50,000 instead of $49,538. Fraud. If you annoyed the wrong people. Maybe you didn’t use some whackjob’s correct pronouns, and must be destroyed.