Republican frontrunner Donald Trump may have to testify in a fraud case filed against him and his now-defunct university before the November election after a judge on Tuesday ruled that the lawsuit can proceed to trial.
The lawsuit, filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman three years ago, alleges real estate course-centric Tump University was not licensed when it launched in 2005, and that "bait-and-switch" tactics were used to lure students into expensive seminars.
In advertisements for the school, Trump told prospective students they could become millionaires within a year, but the university has instead been dragged into court by dissatisfied enrollees and has become a source of criticism against the leading Republican candidate.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and defended the school in presidential debates and rallies.
"I am very pleased the judge has indicated her intention to move as expeditiously as possible to trial, as thousands of Mr. Trump's alleged victims have been waiting for years for relief from his fraud," Schneiderman said in a statement after New York Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern issued her decision.
Schneiderman said Trump would likely be called as a witness in the trial, meaning the billionaire candidate could be forced to testify while campaigning for president.
"As we will prove in court, Donald Trump and his sham for-profit college defrauded thousands of students out of millions of dollars," Schneiderman said in the statement.
The lawsuit is seeking $40 million, alleging Trump University defrauded more than 5,000 students across the U.S., including 600 New Yorkers who paid at least $35,000 each, Fox News reported.
The school is facing at least two other similar lawsuits in California.
Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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