Facing 15 felony charges for tax fraud conspiracies related to the Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corporation, Allen Weisselberg, the former longtime CFO of the Trump Organization has taken a plea deal that will have him plead guilty on all counts before New York state Justice Juan Merchan in Manhattan and require him to testify in October about the company’s business practices in exchange for a five-month sentence that will likely see the ex-exec serve as little as 100 days in prison.
Weisselberg, 75, was brought into the former president’s business circle decades ago by Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump, and while he will have to give testimony about his role in allegedly skirting taxes on ritzy company perks should he be called as a witness in the upcoming October trial of the Trump Organization, Weisselberg will not be required to testify against Donald Trump or his family, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times. Furthermore, he has stated he will not be cooperating with the Manhattan district attorney’s broader investigation into Trump.
Still, the conviction and subsequent testimony punch a hole into any attempts by the company’s attorneys to argue that no crime was committed at the Trump Organization.
At the heart of Weisselberg’s indictment are claims that he avoided paying taxes on leased Mercedes-Benzes, an Upper West Side apartment, and his grandchildren’s private school tuition as part of a conspiracy within the Trump Organization to compensate some executives with off-the-books perks. While other employees reportedly had the same arrangement, so far, Weisselberg is the only one to be charged with a crime.
In his case, prosecutors argued that the former CFO managed over the course of 15 years to avoid paying taxes on $1.76 million of his income.
Whether or not Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his real estate and other assets in order to procure loans and other financial benefits has been the focus of both District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg’s criminal investigation and New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation.
As American Wire reported, Trump repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions after being deposed by James’ office.
Mob tries to throw Trumps words back at him about taking the Fifth, but he beat them to it https://t.co/TzZEGQ9dVr
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) August 11, 2022
The former president, who once claimed that innocent people don’t take the Fifth, defended his decision to stay silent on the matter in a statement released after the FBI’s raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence.
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice,” he said. “If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty. I have absolutely no choice because the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.”
As for Weisselberg, one source familiar with President Trump’s thinking told the Daily Mail that he was long considered a member of the family.
“They broke him in their effort to get Trump and he just wanted this over,” the source said. “Everyone thinks he is a good man.”
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