Trump Org. The trial begins as prosecutors outline the charge of fraud and defense against CFO Allen Weisselberg
New York prosecutors set the stage for the felony tax fraud trial against the Trump Organization on Monday, telling jurors the case is about “greed and deceit.”
Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger presented an alleged 15-year scheme in the Trump Org. to pay high-level executives in perks like luxury cars and apartments without paying taxes on them.
Two Trump Organization entities are charged with nine counts of tax fraud, grand theft and falsifying business records in what prosecutors say was a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation provided to employees.
The scheme, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, was orchestrated by the company’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, the top executive running the company’s books. Prosecutors say the companies benefited from the scheme by paying less tax on employee wages while keeping their longtime employees happy.
“At the end of the day, keeping the trusted CFO happy by paying him more without him being taxed on that income, that was also a benefit to these companies,” Hoffinger said during his opening statement.
The jury sees part of the former president Donald TrumpWeisselberg’s personal ledger and checks he signed from his personal account to pay school fees for Weisselberg’s grandchildren for years, the prosecutor said.
Trump is not a defendant in the case and is not expected to be involved in any wrongdoing, but the charges against the real estate business he built from the ground up are the closest a prosecutor has come to Trump , and the political ramifications of the case. irked the former president, people familiar with the matter said.
“Donald Trump did not know that Allen Weisselberg was falsifying Allen Weisselberg’s personal tax returns. The evidence will be clear on that,” said defense attorney Susan Necheles.
She also warned jurors to leave their political views out of their deliberations.
“You should not consider this case as a referendum on President Trump or his policies. This type of thing has no place in our criminal justice system,” said Necheles.
The defense team for the two Trump companies told the jury that the indictment alleges fraud on the Trump Org’s personal tax forms. employees, driving companies away from Weisselberg admitted to fraudulent behavior.
If convicted, the Trump Org. He faces maximum fines of $1.6 million — the most allowed under New York state law for the alleged conduct. The company would not be dissolved or face other consequences.
Defense attorneys have rested the entire criminal case on Weisselberg, the prosecution’s star witness who took a plea deal, pleading guilty to 15 counts in exchange for a lenient prison sentence.
Weisselberg, who is required to testify at the trial as a condition of the plea deal, will say whatever he needs to, feeling the pressure to lose his luxury lifestyle, according to Necheles.
Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August to failing to pay taxes on $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation he received in the form of a company-financed apartment in New York City. In recent weeks, Weisselberg has met with prosecutors and Manhattan lawyers for the Trump Organization to prepare his testimony.
He is expected to serve a prison sentence of five months or less as a result of the agreement, Necheles said.
“It started with Allen Weisselberg and it ended with Allen Weisselberg,” Necheles said. “Allen Weisselberg caused the company to do something illegal with the intention of benefiting Allen Weisselberg, his friend or his son.”
Necheles also said the Trump Corporation relied on tax experts who never informed company executives that the executives were doing anything improper by not reporting “fringe benefits” on their tax forms.
Weisselberg, who worked for the Trump family for nearly 50 years, has not been removed from the fold despite his crimes, according to defense attorney Michael van der Veen. Weisselberg is still paid by the company even though he has been placed on leave.
“She was trusted by everyone. She was trusted to protect this company. She was trusted to run the accounting department well. She was given an enormous amount of independent autonomy to do her job. She was trusted to keep her personal affairs in order said van der Veen.
The trial day started late thanks to a no-show juror who was eventually released. The jury that was dismissed was an alternate so they went from six alternates to five.
Trump Organization senior vice president and controller Jeffrey McConney took the stand as the prosecution’s first witness. Judge Juan Merchan denied a prosecution request to treat McConney as an adverse witness.
McConney testified that he had been granted immunity to testify at trial because his actions as a controller are intertwined in the allegations. McConney did not cooperate or meet with prosecutors before testifying, but he met with defense counsel as recently as Sunday, he said.
Judge Merchan also denied a request by the prosecution to prohibit McConney from speaking to defense attorneys between his court testimony.
Prosecutors admitted more than 100 Trump Org. financial documents in evidence including Trump Org general records. transactions on a defense objection. McConney went through the format of records detailing years of transactions and explained the payroll process for Trump Org. – a function he no longer supervises.
McConney is expected to continue testifying Tuesday morning.
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