Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg to testify in fraud case as part of a plea deal

Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg exits after his arraignment hearing in New York state Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., July 1, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Donald Trump's chief financial officer is set to plead guilty to tax charges on Thursday as part of an agreement requiring him to testify about illegal business practices at the former president's firm, according to two sources familiar with the situation who spoke to The Associated Press.

Allen Weisselberg is accused of receiving over $1.7 million in unreported remuneration from the Trump Organization over several years, including untaxed amenities such as housing, auto payments, and school tuition.

The plea agreement would force Weisselberg to testify in court on Thursday regarding the company's part in the alleged compensation scheme and possibly serve as a witness when the Trump Organization is tried on related charges in October, according to people familiar with the matter.

The two individuals were not permitted to discuss the subject publicly and did so under the condition of anonymity. The terms of the plea agreement were also confirmed by the New York Times.

People say that Weisselberg, 75, is expected to be sentenced to five months in jail, to be served at the notorious Rikers Island complex in New York City, and he could be ordered to pay almost $2 million in restitution, including taxes, fines, and interest. If this sentence is upheld, Weisselberg would be available for release in around 100 days.

The Manhattan district attorney's office and attorneys for Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were contacted for comment.

Weisselberg is the sole individual facing criminal charges in the Manhattan district attorney's extensive probe of the company's corporate practices.

Weisselberg, considered one of Trump's closest business cronies, was detained in July 2021. His attorneys have suggested that the Democrat-led district attorney's office was punishing him because he refused to provide damaging information about Trump.

The district attorney has also been investigating whether Trump or his corporation misrepresented the worth of its properties to banks or the government to secure loans or lower tax obligations.

According to former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously supervised the investigation, former district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. authorized his deputies to bring evidence to a grand jury and seek an indictment of Trump last year.

After Vance left office, however, his successor Alvin Bragg permitted the grand jury to disband without bringing any indictments. Both attorneys are Democrats, and Bragg has indicated that the probe is ongoing.

The Trump Organization is not implicated in Weisselberg's expected guilty plea on Thursday and will be tried in October for its alleged role in the payments system.

Prosecutors stated that the corporation provided senior employees, including Weisselberg, with untaxed fringe perks for 15 years. Weisselberg was accused of defrauding the federal government, the state, and the city of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and fraudulent tax refunds.

The most severe charge against Weisselberg, grand theft, carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail under state law. However, the offense has no required minimum, and most first-time tax violators never go to prison.

The Trump Organization faces a penalty of double the unpaid taxes or $250,000, whichever is more significant, if convicted of tax fraud.

Trump has not been indicted in the criminal investigation. The Republican has referred to the New York probes as a "political witch hunt" and stated that his company's actions were common in the real estate industry and not illegal.

Trump was deposed last week as part of a parallel civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James into charges that Trump's corporation misled lenders and tax officials about asset values. Over 400 times, Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination.

Publish : 2022-08-18 07:28:00

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