Tax fraud case against Trump Organization, CFO, scheduled for October

Capping an extraordinary week in Donald Trump’s postpresidency, a New York judge Friday ordered his company and longtime chief financial officer to stand trial in the fall on tax fraud stemming from a long-running criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices.

Manhattan Judge Juan Manuel Merchan scheduled jury selection for Oct. 24 in the case alleging the Trump Organization paid CFO Allen Weisselberg more than $1.7 million in unaccounted-for damages , including rent, car payments, and tuition.

Merchan denied requests from Weisselberg’s attorneys and the Trump Organization to drop the case, despite dropping a criminal tax fraud claim against the company citing the statute of limitations. Weisselberg’s attorneys argued prosecutors at the Democrat-led Manhattan District Attorney’s Office would punish him for not hitting on the former president.

Merchan denied it, saying at a Friday hearing that the evidence presented to the grand jury was “legally sufficient to support the charges” and that this trial was properly conducted, its “integrity uncompromised.”

If the schedule holds, Weisselberg and the Trump organization will face trial during the November midterm elections, in which Trump’s Republican Party could gain control of one or both houses of Congress. At the same time, Trump has laid the groundwork for a possible comeback campaign for the presidency in 2024.

The criminal trial is just one of several legal concerns playing out in real time in Trump’s orbit. FBI agents Monday searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in an independent investigation, and on Thursday he and the US Department of Justice requested the public release of search warrant documents.

Trump sat for testimony on Wednesday as New York Attorney General Letitia James concludes a 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.

Trump was not charged in the criminal investigation, but prosecutors have found he signed some of the checks at the center of the case. Trump, who described the New York investigation as a “political witch hunt,” said his company’s actions were standard real estate practice and not criminal.

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.

Weisselberg is the only Trump executive charged in the year-long criminal investigation launched by former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and now overseen by his successor Alvin Bragg. Several other Trump executives have been granted immunity to testify before a grand jury in the case.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Tax fraud case against Trump Organization, CFO, scheduled for October

Dais Johnston

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