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Trump Organization CFO pleads guilty to tax violations, could become prosecution witness

Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty to tax charges in a deal that could see him turn prosecution witness in the Trump Organization’s upcoming trial.

A top executive at former President Trump’s family business pleaded guilty Thursday to evading taxes in a deal that could potentially make him a star witness against the company at a fall trial.

The Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to all 15 of the charges he faced in the case.

In a low, somewhat hoarse voice, he admitted to taking in more than $1.7 million worth of untaxed perks — including school tuition for his grandchildren, free rent for a Manhattan apartment and lease payments for a luxury car — and explicitly keeping some off the books.

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Judge Juan Manuel Merchan agreed to sentence Weisselberg to five months at New York City’s RikersIsland jail and five years’ probation. Weisselberg also must pay nearly $2million in taxes, penalties and interest.

The plea deal requires Weisselberg to testify for the prosecution when the Trump Organization is tried on related charges in October. The company is accused of helping its executives avoid income taxes by failing to report their full compensation to the government. Trump is not charged in the case.

Weisselberg said nothing as he left court, offering no reply when a journalist asked him whether he had any message for Trump.

As New York prosecutors dig further into Trump Organization’s finances, the former president’s fate may depend on his accountant, Allen Weisselberg.

Weisselberg’s lawyer Nicholas Gravante Jr. said his client pleaded guilty “to put an end to this case and the years-long legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family.”

“We are glad to have this behind him,” Gravante added.

Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg said in a statement that Weisselberg’s plea “directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity and requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the corporation. ... We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization.”

Testimony by Weisselberg could potentially weaken the Trump Organization’s defense. If convicted, the company could face fines or potentially be placed on probation and be forced to change certain business practices.

The former president was questioned under oath in the long-running civil investigation of his dealings as a real estate mogul.

Weisselberg, 75, is the only person to face criminal charges so far in the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running investigation of the company’s business practices.

One of Trump’s most loyal business associates, Weisselberg was arrested in July 2021. His lawyers have said the district attorney’s office was punishing him because he wouldn’t offer information that would damage Trump.

The district attorney is also investigating whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of its properties to obtain loans or reduce taxes.

Former Dist. Atty. Cyrus Vance Jr., who started the investigation, last year directed his deputies to present evidence to a grand jury and seek an indictment of Trump, according to former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the probe.

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

The Trump Organization is not involved in Weisselberg’s guilty plea and is scheduled to be tried in the alleged compensation scheme in October.

Prosecutors allege that the company gave untaxed fringe benefits to senior executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone is accused of defrauding the federal government, state and city out of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and undeserved tax refunds.

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

An indictment of his namesake company could imperil the future of former President Trump’s businesses while he’s already under financial strain.

Trump has not been charged in the criminal probe. He has decried the New York investigations as a “political witch hunt” and has said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate business and in no way a crime.

Last week, he invoked his 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times at a deposition in New York Atty. Gen. Letitia James’ parallel civil investigation into allegations that the business misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values.


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