Allen Weisselberg, ex-CFO of Trump Org, pleads guilty

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s company chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, will plead guilty tax violations in a deal that would require him to testify about illegal business practices at the Trump Organization, prosecutors and his lawyer told a court on Thursday.

Weisselberg is accused of accepting more than $1.7 million in off-the-books benefits from the former president’s company over several years, including tax-free benefits such as rent, car payments, and school fees.

Attorney Nicholas Gravante Jr. said his client would plead guilty in exchange for a promised five-month jail term.

Prosecutors said the plea deal would require Weisselberg to give in to each of the 15 charges in the indictment, to speak in court on Thursday about the company’s role. in the alleged compensation scheme and possibly serve as a witness when the Trump organization is on trial in October on related criminal charges.

Weissberg, 75, is expected to receive a five-month prison sentence, which will be served at the infamous Rikers Island complex in New York City, and he will have to pay about $2 million in restitution, including taxes, fines and interest, prosecutors said. the court. If that sentence holds, Weisselberg will be eligible for release after about 100 days.

Weisselberg is the only person charged so far in the Manhattan District Attorney’s long-running investigation into the company’s business practices.

Considered one of Trump’s most loyal business associates, Weisselberg was arrested in July 2021. His lawyers have argued that the Democrat-led prosecutor punished him for failing to provide information that would harm Trump.

The prosecutor also investigated whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of his properties in order to obtain loans or reduce tax bills.

Then-prosecutor Cyrus Vance Jr., who began the investigation, last year ordered his deputies to present evidence to a grand jury and seek charges against Trump, according to former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the investigation.

But after Vance left office, his successor, Alvin Bragg, allowed the grand jury to dissolve without charge. Both prosecutors are Democrats. Bragg has said the investigation is continuing.

The Trump Organization is not involved in Weisselberg’s expected plea on Thursday and is expected to face trial in October in the alleged compensation settlement.

Prosecutors alleged that the company provided tax-free fringe benefits to senior executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was charged with defrauding the federal, state and city of over $900,000 in unpaid taxes and unearned tax refunds.

Under state law, the most serious charge against Weisselberg, grand theft, can be up to 15 years in prison. But the charges have no mandatory minimum, and most first-time offenders in tax-related cases never end up behind bars.

The tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization are punishable by a fine of double the amount in unpaid taxes, or $250,000, whichever is greater.

Trump has not been charged in the criminal investigation. The Republican has dismissed the New York investigation as a “political witch hunt” and has said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate industry and not a crime in any way.

Last week, Trump sat for a statement in the parallel civil investigation of New York Attorney General Letitia James into allegations that Trump’s company misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment protections more than 400 times against self-incrimination.

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Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak. Send confidential tips by going to https://www.ap.org/tips/.


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