Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty in tax-fraud case

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NEW YORK — Allen Weisselberg, the longtime top financial officer of former President Donald Trump’s company, pleaded guilty Thursday to more than a dozen crimes, including criminal tax fraud and grand theft.

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were indicted last year by New York authorities who accused them of withholding certain financial compensation as part of a year-long tax evasion scheme. The case is part of the swirling legal maelstrom that continues to surround Trump and his closest allies, with local, state and federal authorities scrutinizing everything from his namesake company to his handling of classified government documents since he left office.

When he appeared in a Manhattan courtroom, Weisselberg, 75, acknowledged his part in the plan outlined by prosecutors — and agreed to testify, if called, at a pending trial before the company. As part of his plea deal, Weisselberg, Trump’s closest and trusted associate for decades, would spend five months in prison, followed by five years of probation.

Chief financial officer of Allen Weisselberg, the company of former President Donald Trump, appeared in a New York court on Aug. 18, facing more than a dozen charges. (Video: AP)

Weisselberg spoke sparingly during the hearing, answer “yes” to confirm his activities and guilt in all respects. However, his future testimony could be damaging to the former president’s eponymous company, which, according to prosecutors, ran “a sweeping and daring illegal payment scheme.”

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Weisselberg’s sentence depends on him “truly testifying” during the Trump company trial, the prosecutor’s office said.

The plea deal “imposes” the Trump organization directly in a “wide range of criminal activity,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement.

“In addition, thanks to the incredibly hard work and dedication of the team pursuing this case, Weisselberg will be spending time behind bars,” Bragg said. “We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization.”

The former president and his loved ones attacked the case, he links it to the thicket of other investigations and audits that he routinely characterizes as a coordinated “witch hunt” by Democrats who hate him.

In a statement, his company called Weisselberg “a fine and honorable man who for the past 4 years has been harassed, persecuted and threatened by law enforcement, most notably the Manhattan District Attorney, in their never-ending, politically motivated quest to become president. Trump.”

Weisselberg, the company’s statement said, pleaded guilty “in an effort to put this case behind him and move on with his life.” The company promised that the two legal entities charged alongside Weisselberg would made no plea, denied any wrongdoing and said, “we are now looking forward to having our day in court.”

Jury selection in the Trump Organization trial is slated for late October, which the company said was “just days before the midterm elections.”

The message that Weisselberg was expected to reach a plea deal appeared on Monday, his 75th birthday. A person informed then said that he was not expected to assist in an ongoing investigation into the former president. The July 2021 indictment of Weisselberg was partly an attempt to secure his cooperation against Trump, people with knowledge of the strategy had said last year.

“In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg has decided to file a plea today to end this case and the years of legal and personal nightmares it has caused him and his family,” Nicholas said. . Gravante Jr., an attorney for Weisselberg, said in a statement. “Instead of risking the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days. We are happy to have this behind him.”

Bragg, who took office earlier this year, has faced public pressure over his office’s investigation into Trump. Two veteran prosecutors involved in the case resigned in protest after learning that Bragg would not authorize them to press charges against the former president. Bragg made a public statement in the spring saying the investigation was continuing, and his office reiterated that Thursday.

“For years, Mr. Weisselberg has broken the law to fill his own pockets and fund a lavish lifestyle,” New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who also investigates Trump and his business practices, said in a statement. declaration. “Today that misconduct will come to an end. Let this guilty plea send a loud and clear message: We will crack down on anyone who steals from the public for personal gain because no one is above the law.”

The former president, who is said to be plotting a new White House bid, is facing a wave of legal scrutiny, including investigations into attempts to reverse the 2020 election, his handling of classified documents after his departure, his taxes and his actions in connection with the January 6, 2021 US Capitol riots.

Weisselberg’s plea underscored the array of investigations and legal dangers facing the former president and others in his job, coming the same day as a South Florida hearing on whether an affidavit filed before an FBI search at Trump’s residence could be released publicly.

The day before, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has worked as Trump’s attorney, appeared before a Georgia grand jury as part of a criminal investigation into attempts to reverse the 2020 election. Giuliani has been informed that he is the target of that investigation, according to his lawyers.

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For Weisselberg, who has worked for the Trump family for nearly 50 years, the plea deal represents an apparent endgame to his criminal case dodging a trial in the heart of Manhattan, which would likely have attracted a lot of media attention.

In last year’s indictment, Weisselberg was described as “one of the biggest individual beneficiaries” of what the prosecutors portrayed as a comprehensive, long-running settlement.

The indictment alleges that the Trump organization paid the rent and utilities for an apartment in Manhattan where he lived, and financed the leases for the Mercedes-Benz cars for Weisselberg and his wife, but did not declare it as income and necessary taxes. The indictment also said he “intentionally” omitted his fee from his tax return.

All told, the indictment said, Weisselberg embezzled approximately $1.7 million in his compensation from tax authorities over a period from 2005 to 2017, “evading hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal, state and local taxes.”

As part of the plea deal outlined in court, Weisselberg agreed to refund the taxes owed, along with penalties and interest. — a total of $1.9 million, the district attorney’s office said. And if he does not comply with the plea agreement, he could face a more severe sentence by the court.

Berman reported from Washington. Shayna Jacobs in New York and Josh Dawsey in Washington contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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