Allen Weisselberg: Former Trump Organization CFO pleads guilty for role in 15-year tax evasion scheme


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In court Thursday, Weisselberg replied “Yes, your honor” when asked if he was pleading guilty of his own choice.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 felonies and admitted he failed to pay taxes on $1.7 million in earnings, including luxuries, such as rent and utilities for an apartment in Manhattan, leases for a pair of Mercedes-Benz cars and private tuition for his grandchildren.

He admitted to concealing these benefits from his accountant for underreporting his income and knowingly omitting the income from his personal tax returns.

Weisselberg answered a series of specific questions about the judge’s scheme in a hushed, barely audible tone, saying “Yes, your honor” repeatedly.

As part of the deal, he will pay nearly $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties and waive any right of appeal.

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Judge Juan Merchan said Weisselberg would be sentenced after the Trump Organization trial. He said the deal called for a five-month sentence followed by five years probation. The judge warned Weisselberg if he did not meet all the terms of the plea agreement, “I would be free to impose any legal penalty which, in your case, includes imprisonment for 5 to 15 years.”

The plea puts him at odds with the Trump Organization, where he worked for 40 years, and his testimony could harm the company, if it stands trial for related tax charges as expected in October.

Nicholas Gravante Jr., Weisselberg’s lead attorney, said in a statement that Weisselberg was happy to put the decision behind him.

“In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg decided today to plead guilty to end this case and the legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family for years. family,” Gravante said. said. “Rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he agreed to serve 100 days. We are happy to have that behind him.”

In a statement provided to CNN on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said, “The two Trump companies that the Manhattan DA has targeted, however, will not take advocacy for the simple reason that they have nothing done wrong. As a result, we now look forward to our day in court, which, interestingly enough, is scheduled for October 24, just days before the midterm elections.”

The statement went on to call Allen Weisselberg a “good and honorable man” who was “harassed, persecuted, and threatened by law enforcement, especially the Manhattan District Attorney,” all in an attempt to get the former president.

Weisselberg has been fiercely loyal to the Trump family, having worked for them since 1973. Yet even in testifying against the company, Weisselberg will not implicate any member of the Trump family, who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. If the Trump Organization is found guilty, it could be required to repay taxes and fines, but no individual will go to jail.

“Today, Allen Weisselberg admitted in court that he used his position in the Trump Organization to defraud taxpayers and enrich himself,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. communicated. “This plea agreement directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activities and compels Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the company. Additionally, thanks to the team’s incredibly hard work and dedication who is prosecuting this case, Weisselberg is spending time behind bars. We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization,” Bragg said.

Weisselberg will likely serve at Rikers Island, New York’s notorious prison. With credit given for good behavior, a third of the sentence could be waived, meaning Weisselberg could end up serving around 100 days behind bars. None of the charges against Weisselberg have mandatory incarceration, but the most serious of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said during the hearing that if Weisselberg does not meet all of his obligations, he will recommend a state prison sentence.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced the tax charges last summer as it pressured Weisselberg to cooperate against Trump in the sweeping investigation into whether the Trump Organization and its top leaders had provided misleading financial statements to obtain loans, insurance and tax advantages. No charges have been brought in that investigation, which prosecutors say is ongoing.

Weisselberg is not cooperating with New York prosecutors in this criminal investigation.

The guilty plea comes two months before Weisselberg is due to stand trial and a week after a New York state judge denied his motion to dismiss the indictment.

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Representatives of the Trump Organization have denied any wrongdoing. Trump called the investigations politically motivated. No other executives have been charged in the tax case and Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump have not been charged with any wrongdoing.

The Trump Organization was charged with 10 counts and Weisselberg with 15 counts in connection with an alleged scheme dating back to 2005 “to compensate Weisselberg and other Trump Organization executives in a manner that was” out of order. books “.

There are few people, including Weisselberg, who could explain how decisions were made within the Trump Organization, and his testimony will provide information at trial.

Weisselberg acknowledged on Thursday that the scheme was enacted with Jeffrey McConney, the Trump Organization’s longtime comptroller.

McConney, who reported to Weisselberg, was granted immunity for his grand jury testimony, people familiar with the matter previously told CNN. He was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment.

Weisselberg’s guilty plea comes during a dramatic court period for Trump, who last week during a deposition in the New York Attorney General’s civil investigation, asserted his right to the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer hundreds of questions about the Trump Organization’s financial statements.
It happened two days after the FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s private residence in Mar-a-lago, Florida, in connection with a criminal investigation into the handling of presidential records, including classified documents.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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