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Trump Organization Sentenced To Maximum Penalty In Tax Fraud Case

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Former President Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump's family business has been ordered to pay a $1.6M penalty for its tax evasion schemes.

The Trump Organization must pay the maximum allowable fine after receiving a guilty verdict on 17 counts of criminal tax fraud last month, New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan ruled Friday, The New York Times reports.

The penalty concludes one of several high-profile, long-running legal battles that revealed the inner workings of the former president’s family business. Former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg testified at the trial in November, revealing an off-the-books compensation scheme for executives in a tax evasion scheme that Weisselberg said Trump was aware of. Practices only ceased once Trump took office, Weisselberg told the jury.

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to 15 criminal counts and testified as part of a plea deal, was sentenced to five months in jail for his role in the tax dodging scheme earlier this week. He will serve his sentence in an infirmary unit at the Rikers Island jail complex.

The Trump Organization's lawyers asked for a smaller fine and attempted to pin the blame on Weisselberg, the Times reported. Joshua Steinglass, one of the Manhattan District Attorney prosecutors on the case, said the fine will have minimal impact on The Trump Organization's finances.

“This is a farce,” University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law associate professor Bill Black, who specialized in white-collar crime, told Reuters. “No one will stop committing these kinds of crimes because of this sentence.”

While Donald Trump hasn't been charged with a crime, he remains the target of a civil fraud lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James, which is due to go to trial in October.

The suit, which James launched in late September after a lengthy investigation, seeks to ban Trump and his eldest children from working in New York real estate and alleges that The Trump Organization manipulated property values to obtain favorable loan terms and low tax payments.

A judge appointed an independent monitor to stop The Trump Organization from shielding assets after the NY AG’s Office pointed to actions that it said looked like attempts to “reorganize” the Trump family business.