Assuming present circumstances play out, Allen Weisselberg, the longtime financial executive at the Trump Organization who has repeatedly appeared in news stories related to Trump, exemplifying his close proximity, seems set to testify at the upcoming criminal trial of the Trump family business, at which jury selection starts Monday.
The Trump business was charged for an allegedly years-long scheme of evading taxes on high-dollar, non-cash benefits for executives. Weisselberg received a significant portion of the disputed benefits, and after failing in a push to throw out his charges, he pleaded guilty to over a dozen felonies. Weisselberg was left with just months in prison after admitting to these offenses, but his arrangements are contingent on truthful testimony at the Trump company’s trial and providing repayment covering nearly $2 million he owed state and local authorities because of the 15-year scheme. Failing on either front could result in additional time in prison. Weisselberg is not cooperating or testifying against Trump in the former president’s personal capacity, although he already directly implicated two Trump business entities in his offenses.
“In his plea allocution in Court, WEISSELBERG admitted that he engaged in the scheme to defraud together with his co-defendants, the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corp. (“the Trump Organization”), specifically implicating the Trump Organization in the criminal charges,” the Manhattan district attorney’s office noted. Weisselberg avoided personal taxes and the Trump company evaded payroll taxes as part of the scheme. As also summarized by prosecutors, Weisselberg’s benefits covered “rent on an apartment on Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan, utilities and garage privileges related to the apartment, multiple Mercedes Benz automobiles, private school tuition for his grandchildren, unreported cash and furnishings for his apartment and home in Florida.”
Some compensation that was reported was outlined in false terms. Weisselberg, for instance, wasn’t self-employed — he was a full-fledged employee. Yet, he received bonuses reported by the company on IRS 1099 forms. Weisselberg falsely took business deductions connected to that false reporting. Previously, prosecutors have already explored the option of charges against Trump himself, but no such charges have emerged as of this point amid reported concerns from the district attorney about the potential case. However, the investigation isn’t over. “The investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization is ongoing,” Manhattan prosecutors said. At trial, the Trump company could be saddled with substantial financial penalties if prosecutors prevail. If “the company is found guilty, it would have to pay back taxes and fines totaling about $1.6 million,” Bloomberg reported. That’s lower than Weisselberg’s penalties.
“Prosecutors for District Attorney Alvin Bragg will probably ask him whether the same perks he enjoyed were extended to other senior executives, including Trump’s children,” Bloomberg also said. Differences in the treatment of company executives could spotlight the scheme. Although the team of New York state Attorney General Letitia James helped with this case, the trial is separate from the civil lawsuit she recently filed. That lawsuit accuses the Trump company of relying on deceptive statements of value for dozens of assets, and she is seeking the return of $250 million she tied to that deception.