Allen Weisselberg, Trump Org’s ex-CFO, set to plead guilty

NEW YORK (AP) — The chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s company, Allen Weisselberg, is expected to plead guilty to tax offenses on Thursday as part of a deal that would require him to testify about the Trump Organization’s illicit business practices, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

Weisselberg is accused of accepting more than $1.7 million as informal compensation from the former president’s company over several years, including untaxed benefits like rent, car payments, and college tuition.

He spoke quietly with his attorneys as he awaited a hearing in a Manhattan court on Thursday morning.

The plea deal would require Weisselberg to speak in court Thursday about the company’s role in the alleged compensation arrangement and possibly serve as a witness when the Trump Organization goes on trial in October on related criminal charges, the people said.

Both individuals were not authorized to speak publicly about the case and did so on condition of anonymity.

Wesselberg, 75 years old, is likely to receive a five-month prison sentence, to be served at New York’s notorious Rikers Island resort, and he could be required to pay around $2 million in restitution, including taxes, penalties and interest , the people said. If that sentence stands, Weisselberg could be released after about 100 days.

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

Weisselberg is the only person to face criminal charges so far in the Manhattan prosecutor’s long investigation into the company’s business practices.

Considered one of Trump’s most trusted business associates, Weisselberg was arrested in July 2021. His lawyers argued the Democratic-run district attorney’s office was punishing him for not providing information that would would hurt Trump.

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

Then-district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who opened the investigation, last year asked his deputies to present evidence to a grand jury and seek Trump’s indictment, according to the report. former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the investigation.

But after Vance left, his successor, Alvin Bragg, allowed the grand jury to disband 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 expected to go on trial under the so-called compensation package in October.

Prosecutors alleged that the company provided untaxed benefits to senior executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was charged with defrauding the federal government, state, and city out of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and undeserved 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 the charge carries no mandatory minimum sentence, and most first-time offenders in tax-related cases never end up behind bars.

Tax evasion charges against the Trump Organization carry a fine of twice the amount of unpaid taxes, or $250,000, whichever is greater.

Trump has not been charged in the criminal investigation. The Republican called the New York investigations a “political witch hunt” and said his company’s actions were common practice in the real estate industry and not a crime.

Last week, Trump sat for deposition in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ parallel civil investigation into allegations that Trump’s company misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values. . Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.

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Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak. Send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/.

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