BALTIMORE (AP) – A Maryland judge has ruled that an apartment company co-owned by former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has repeatedly violated state laws on the protection of consumers by collecting debts without the required licenses, charging tenants inappropriate fees and distorting the condition of rental housing.
Administrative law judge Emily Daneker said in her 252-page ruling Thursday that violations by Westminster Management and the JK2 company were “widespread and numerous,” reports the Baltimore Sun.
Kushner and his brother Joshua each owned a 50% stake in JK2. Westminster is the successor to the company.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, sued Westminster and 25 related companies in 2019, claiming they took advantage of financially vulnerable consumers in the Baltimore area.
The judge ruled that tenants were often misled about apartment conditions and were not allowed to see their actual apartments until they moved in.
Daneker found that Westminster had billed illegal fees thousands of times over more than two years, for example by falsely charging more than $ 332,000 in agent fees.
“These circumstances do not support the conclusion that this was the result of isolated or inadvertent errors,” the judge wrote.
The judge also found that Frosh’s office failed to establish that the companies illegally misrepresented their ability to provide maintenance services and did not violate consumer protection laws during the entire period alleged by the Attorney General.
Westminster owner Kushner Cos. Called the judge’s decision a victory for the company.
“Kushner respects the thoughtful depth of the judge’s ruling, which justifies Westminster in relation to many of the attorney general’s excessive allegations,” Kushner Cos’ attorney general said. Christopher W. Smith in a press release.
Westminster has repeatedly claimed that Frosh’s case was politically motivated, but the judge said the evidence did not support that claim.
Frosh’s office declined to comment on the decision, citing the ongoing litigation.
Both parties have 30 days to file responses to the judge’s decision.
Most of the properties involved in the case are in Baltimore County, but some are in the city of Baltimore and Prince George County.
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