Criminal Fraud Trial Against Trump Family Will Proceed

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A criminal trial over charges brought by the office of the Manhattan district attorney against the Trump Organization for an allegedly years-long pattern of evading taxes on high-dollar, non-cash benefits provided to executives starts Monday with jury selection.

This case is separate from the sweeping civil lawsuit recently filed by New York state Attorney General Letitia James, which hinges in significant part on allegedly vastly deceptive statements of value for dozens of company assets. That deception was poised to provide the Trump company with unearned financial benefits, and accordingly, James is seeking the return of $250 million she tied to deceptive valuations. She is also hoping to block the former president and his three most prominent adult children from leading businesses in New York. In court, she revealed excerpts from testimony provided by Donald Trump Jr., who became one of the trustees leading the Trump family business around the time his father took office. He tried to pass off responsibility for the financial statements to someone else, including during the time he has served as a trustee — but he is named in the lawsuit alongside Dad.

In the Manhattan case, the Trump company is also facing the possibility of steep financial penalties. “The Trump Organization could face up to $1.6 million in fines for the three tax fraud counts and six other counts that were brought,” according to Reuters. “Two of its subsidiaries – the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp – are the entities charged in the case.” Allen Weisselberg, a longtime financial executive at the company, is apparently set to testify at the trial after previously pleading guilty to more than a dozen of his own criminal tax fraud-related charges. He was the recipient of a substantial portion of the disputed benefits. As summarized by Reuters, the company has apparently tried to push responsibility for the issues onto Weisselberg and others, saying prosecutors wanted penalties because “a handful of its officers allegedly failed to report fringe benefits on their personal tax returns.” Weisselberg specifically admitted in his plea deal to having engaged in his criminal activity in coordination with the Trump business.