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

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NEW YORK (AP) — The chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s company, Allen Weisselberg, will to plead guilty to tax violations as part of a deal that would require him to testify about the Trump Organization’s illicit business practices, prosecutors and his attorney said in court on Thursday.

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.

Attorney Nicholas Gravante Jr. said his client would plead guilty in exchange for a promised five-month prison sentence.

Prosecutors said the plea deal would require Weisselberg to admit each of the 15 counts, to speak in court Thursday about the role of business as part of the alleged compensation arrangement and may serve as a witness when the The Trump Organization is on trial in October on related criminal charges.

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

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 advice by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/.

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