Trump’s CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty, could face prosecution witness: AP

NEW YORK CITY– Legal troubles continue for former President Donald Trump and those around him. A hearing in lower Manhattan Thursday morning could result in a prison sentence for one of Trump’s closest aides.

Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, is expected to plead guilty to tax fraud.

The Associated Press reports that the plea deal would require him to testify about illegal business practices at the former president’s firm.

Weisselberg is accused of accepting more than $1.7 million in unaccounted-for compensation from the Trump Organization over a number of years, including untaxed benefits such as rent, car payments and tuition.

The plea deal would require Weisselberg to speak in court Thursday about the company’s role in the alleged indemnity settlement and possibly serve as a witness if the Trump Organization goes to trial on related charges in October, two sources told the Associated Press .

The two people were not authorized to speak publicly about the case and did so on condition of anonymity, the Associated Press reported.

Weisselberg, 75, is likely to face a five-month sentence to be served at the infamous Rikers Island complex in New York City, and could be ordered to pay about $2 million in damages, inclusive Taxes, penalties and interest, to the people said.

If this penalty applies, Weisselberg could be released after about 100 days.

Messages asking for comment were left with the Manhattan Attorney’s Office and attorneys from Weisselberg and the Trump Organization.

Weisselberg is the only person so far prosecuted in the Manhattan Attorney’s long-running investigation into the company’s business practices.

Last week he lost his motion to have the charges against him dropped.

Weisselberg is considered one of Trump’s most loyal business partners and was arrested in July 2021. His attorneys have argued the Democrat-led prosecutor’s office is punishing him for failing to offer information that would harm Trump.

The district attorney has also investigated whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of his properties in order to obtain loans or reduce tax bills.

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

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

The Trump Organization is not involved in Weisselberg’s expected guilty plea on Thursday and is due to go on trial in October in the alleged compensation scheme.

Prosecutors alleged the company provided 15 years of untaxed fringe benefits to senior employees, including Weisselberg. Weißelberg alone has been accused of defrauding the federal, state and local government out of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and unearned tax refunds.

Under state law, punishment for the most serious charge against Weisselberg, grand larceny, could carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. But charges don’t have a mandatory minimum, and most first-time tax offenders never end up behind bars.

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

Trump was not charged in the criminal investigation. The Republican has described the New York investigation as a “political witch hunt,” saying his company’s actions are standard practice in the real estate business and are by no means punishable.

Last week, Trump sat for testimony in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ parallel civil investigation into allegations that Trump’s company misled lenders and tax authorities about assets.

Trump has invoked his Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination more than 400 times.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Trump’s CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty, could face prosecution witness: AP

Dais Johnston

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