Trump Executive Approaches Plea Agreement With Manhattan Prosecutors

A senior executive at Donald J. Trump’s family business, accused of participating in a years-long tax system, is nearing a deal with Manhattan prosecutors but will not cooperate in a wider investigation into Mr Trump, according to three knowledgeable people .

If it becomes final, a plea deal for the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, would not bring prosecutors any closer to indicting the former president, but would nonetheless call one of his most trusted lieutenants a felon.

On Monday, Mr. Weisselberg’s lawyers and prosecutors met with the judge overseeing the case, according to a court database. The judge has scheduled a hearing on Thursday, a possible indication that a deal has been reached and that a plea can then be made.

While Mr Weisselberg, 75, faces financial penalties and up to 15 years in prison if convicted by a jury, a plea deal would prevent a high-profile trial and most likely save him a lengthy sentence. Two knowledgeable people said Mr Weisselberg was expected to face a five-month prison sentence. With the time attributed to good behavior, he will probably serve about 100 days.

The other terms of Mr. Weisselberg’s deal were not clear, including whether he made additional concessions to prosecutors to receive it. His attorney, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., confirmed he was in negotiations but declined to discuss the details. Weisselberg’s other attorney, Mary E. Mulligan, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin L. Bragg.

In fits and starts, the district attorney has been investigating in recent years whether Mr. Trump and his company have fraudulently inflated the value of his real estate in order to obtain loans and benefits. The investigation, initially led by then-prosecutor Cyrus R. Vance Jr., developed into one of the biggest legal threats facing Trump.

The prosecutor’s criminal investigation continued after Mr. Weisselberg was indicted last summer for participating in a 15-year scheme to receive off-the-book perks at Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, which is also involved in the case. was charged.

The company will not join on Thursday with Mr. Weisselberg, said two knowledgeable people. And while Mr. Weisselberg admits his own guilt, he is not expected to involve anyone in the Trump family.

Prosecutors have long hoped they could convince Mr. Weisselberg to testify against Mr. Trump, given his decades of service to the Trump family and his vast knowledge of the company and its business practices. But Mr Weisselberg has refused to meet with them even as his lawyers negotiated a possible deal, those with knowledge of the matter said.

Mr. Trump and his company have long maintained that Mr. Weisselberg would have had to lie to get Mr. Trump involved. Still, his decision to plead guilty — and accept jail time — underscores the extent of his loyalty to a family that has employed him for nearly half a century.

A plea deal for Mr. Weisselberg could leave Mr. Trump’s company alone in the tax case. A deal would also likely draw renewed attention to the status of the prosecutor’s criminal investigation into Mr. Trump and his company’s business practices, an investigation that lost momentum early this year and has largely faded from the public eye.

Mr Bragg, like Mr Vance a Democrat, has said the investigation is continuing. But the direction and future are unclear. Mr Trump, who has called the investigation a partisan witch hunt, has not been charged with wrongdoing himself.

The plea negotiations with Mr. Weisselberg came to light after a New York state judge Juan Merchan refused to dismiss the criminal case against the Trump Organization and Mr. Weisselberg last week.

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The judge’s decision was the final legal battle for Mr Trump, whose Florida home was recently searched by the FBI over an unrelated investigation. In another embarrassing episode for a former president who mocked others for refusing to answer questions under oath, he invoked his Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in an interview with the New York State Attorney General last week.

The Attorney General, Letitia James, a Democrat, is conducting a civil investigation into some of the same behavior that the District Attorney is investigating. And a number of lawyers from her office took part in the prosecutor’s criminal investigation last year.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation took a detour early last year, shortly after Mr. Vance won a Supreme Court victory that ended a battle to obtain Mr. Trump’s tax returns and other business records.

Armed with that data, prosecutors began to focus on benefits Mr. Weisselberg had received from the company, including several rented Mercedes-Benzes, a rent-free apartment and private school lessons for his grandchildren. mr. Weisselberg, prosecutors said when they charged him last July of failing to pay taxes on $1.7 million in perks and other income.

Before being charged, prosecutors exerted significant pressure on Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate in their investigation into Mr. Trump because of his in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump organization.

But Mr Weisselberg, who was the chief financial officer at the time, failed to reach a deal and was charged. Since then, the Trump Organization has stripped him of his title, though he continues to work at the company and appeared poised to appear in court. But Mr Gravante, who also represented two other Trump Organization employees who had not been charged in the case, joined Mr. Weisselberg’s defense team in June and said he was open to making a deal.

The Trump Organization, where Mr. Weisselberg spent his career climbing the ranks from junior accountant to chief financial officer, was also indicted in the suit, which set out a scheme coordinated by senior executives of the company to increase their income. under-reporting by accepting benefits that were not stated on tax documents.

Even without the cooperation of Mr. Weisselberg, prosecutors continued to file a case against Mr. Building Trump, focusing on whether he had improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets.

Late last year, Mr. Vance ordered prosecutors to present evidence about Mr. Trump to a grand jury, laying the groundwork for a possible charge against the former president.

But Mr. Vance had decided not to stand for re-election, and after weeks of meetings on the matter, Mr. Bragg developed concerns about the challenge of demonstrating Mr. Trump’s intent to break the law, a requirement to sue. under consideration.

The two senior prosecutors who led the investigation, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, resigned shortly after. In his letter of resignation, which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Pomerantz that Mr. Trump had committed “numerous felony violations” and that it was “a grave failure of justice” not to press charges and hold him accountable.

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