Here’s what happens if Trump can’t get a $464 million bond

Editor’s Note: A New York appeals court on Monday reduced the required bond amount to $175 million and gave former President Donald Trump 10 more days to post bond to satisfy the civil fraud judgement.

Donald Trump’s legal team and the New York Attorney General’s office are working hard ahead of the former president’s Monday’s deadline to secure a bond for the multimillion-dollar civil fraud judgment against him.

Trump personally owes over $454 million stemming from the ruling made by Judge Arthur Engoron back in February. The figure balloons up to $463.9 million when including the money owed from his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., the Trump Organization and the interest that was accrued as of the date of the ruling.

Experts who spoke to CNN say Attorney General Letitia James and her staff should be poised to start the complicated legal maze of seizing Trump’s assets if the former president does not secure the bonds needed to cover Engoron’s ruling as he appeals.

Assets, such as buildings, houses, cars, helicopters and his plane, are in play. The main focus could be on his bank accounts, which experts say will be easier to take hold of, and properties, which would be more difficult.

Trump has asked a state appeals court to allow him to post a smaller bond – or none at all – claiming he would face irreparable harm if he were forced to sell properties at a fire sale that can’t be undone if he ultimately wins his appeal. The court has not yet ruled.

Here’s what happens if Trump can’t secure the bond:

Seizing bank accounts and cash

In theory, officials can begin the complicated legal process of taking his assets, barring any other strategic legal maneuvering from state prosecutors and countering from Trump’s legal team. Officials will have to weigh what assets they want to take, whether it’s his bank accounts or his properties. Experts think the first action should be seizing his bank accounts.

“The banks are the easiest part, they’ll receive the judgment from the Attorney General - the court order - then the banks will enforce,” said attorney Peter Katz, a former federal prosecutor at the Eastern District of New York who has handled fraud cases. “They take the funds from the account and put it in the attorney general’s accounts. The other stuff is a little more challenging.”

Taking money from Trump’s accounts requires state prosecutors to ask the New York City Sheriff or a US Marshall to go into the main branch of whichever bank Trump has his money, armed with a court order.

“They walk in and give it to the manager,” said Adam Pollock, a former assistant New York State Attorney General who now specializes in judgment enforcement at Pollock Cohen LLP. “The manager is supposed to pay over the amount forthwith. It should be a cashier’s check.”

Any perceived extra time taken by the attorney general’s office could be just part of determining the right strategy.

“They’re trying to get their ducks in a row. They want to find the most liquid of the assets they can restrain immediately. A bank account is the most effective way to do it,” said attorney Alden B. Smith who specializes in debt collection. “They’re probably just deciding what’s the best course of action.”

What about buildings and businesses?

Seizing property takes much longer.

Once state prosecutors figure out what property they want to take, they give the sheriff’s office the execution order, along with a fee for $350, Pollock said. The sheriff then posts the notice for the property in three places and the Attorney General’s office must advertise it four times, Pollock said. Then, in 63 days from when the execution order is given to the sheriff, a public auction is held for the property, according to Pollock.

“They could say ‘hand over the ownership of these 500 corporations and LLC’s to the sheriff for public auction’ or just enough so that they could satisfy the judgment or $455 million worth,” Pollock said.

The seizure process will be more difficult with Trump’s out-of-state properties, so state prosecutors have already made some legal moves to get the ball rolling in New York.

The attorney general’s office filed judgments in Westchester County, north of New York City, in what some say is the first sign that the state is laying the groundwork to seize the former president’s golf course in Briarcliff Manor as well as his private estate known as Seven Springs.

State lawyers entered the judgments with the clerk’s office in Westchester County on March 6, just one week after Engoron’s ruling.

What about Mar-a-Lago?

No other judgments have been filed, but the process could play out in other states where Trump has assets, most notably Mar-a-Lago in Florida, though other properties might be less challenging to take.

“The attorney general’s office is the largest firm in New York State, if you think about it as a law firm. The office has zero lawyers in Florida. I would see execution on properties in New York before you see anything in Florida, Pollock said.

A key legal battle could be how much of Mar-a-Lago is considered to be Trump’s home, which could be protected under the law.

“At the heart could be the homestead extension. But that would have to play out in court,” Pollock said.

Can Trump get out of this?

Trump is still waiting on whether an appeals court will either lessen the amount he must pay as part of the ruling or pause the judgment all together while his appeal is being considered.

If he doesn’t win his appeal, bankruptcy remains an option, albeit one the former president does not want to take.

“You don’t want him to file bankruptcy, then the debt will be discharged,” Smith said. “If he files for bankruptcy then the judgment is automatically stayed. Bankruptcy is the biggest nemesis of collection enforcement for lawyers.”

If Trump doesn’t come up with the money, his options shrink considerably.

“I don’t see any other way he could stop the process from proceeding without going into bankruptcy or getting a bond,” Smith said.

Trump and his team could sell smaller properties as a way to try and satisfy the debt.

“At the end of the day, he’ll do anything before letting Tish James put on a metaphorical padlock on 40 Wall Street,” Harry Litman, a former deputy assistant attorney general, told CNN on Friday.

While the clock is about to run out, some experts question why a grace period was even given.

“There’s no reason for courtesy when he owes $455 million dollars to the people of the state of New York after being found persistently liable for fraud,” Pollock said. “That’s not someone you typically extend courtesy to.”

Does Trump have the cash?

The former president posted on Truth Social Friday he currently has almost $500 million in cash that he intended to use for his campaign and said James “wants to take it away from him.”


His attorney, Chris Kise told CNN that Trump wasn’t referring to cash he has on hand, however.

“What he’s talking about is the money reported on his campaign disclosure forms that he’s built up through years of owning and managing successful businesses,” Kise told CNN on Friday. That is the very cash that Letitia James and the Democrats are targeting.”

Trump also recently had to secure a nearly $92 million bond to satisfy the judgment against him in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case as he appeals.

Litman told CNN that there is likely less money than Trump says because of the fraud ruling. Either way, he added, is a devastating blow for the former president.

“It’s like a company that all of a sudden has no chairs, furniture, accounts receivable or anything. That is really the end of the day, I think, for the Trump organization in New York,” Litman said. “It’s an ugly, ugly situation for him, even if it is halfway accurate.”

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