Former Trump CFO Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud, Agrees To Testify At Trial
The Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer pleaded guilty on 15 criminal charges and agreed to comply with any prosecutor requests to testify at the trial of the former president’s company later this year.
Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to all 15 felonies he was accused of, including grand larceny, tax fraud and conspiracy, The Wall Street Journal reported. He admitted Thursday in New York state court that he had knowingly skirted tax laws by failing to disclose over $1M in off-the-books compensation.
Weisselberg, who first worked for Fred Trump in the 1970s and became known as one of Donald Trump’s most loyal business associates, has agreed as part of the terms of his plea deal to give evidence at Trump Organization’s trial for tax fraud, which is set for Oct. 24.
Weisselberg won't be sentenced until after the trial. He had been facing up to 15 years in prison, but his lawyer has said he is likely to be sentenced to five months in jail, though Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said he would recommend a harsher state prison term if Weisselberg doesn’t take the stand and meet his obligation to tell the truth.
He will not, however, provide evidence in any investigation of the company.
“In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg decided to enter a plea of guilty today to put an end to this case and the years-long legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family,” Weisselberg's lawyer, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., said in a statement. “Rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days. We are glad to have this behind him.”
State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan this week allowed charges against Weisselberg and the company, rejecting their arguments that the case against them was politically motivated and should not be addressed under state jurisdiction.
The Trump Organization and Weisselberg were charged last summer, when state prosecutors formally accused the firm of finding illegal ways to avoid state, local and federal taxes. Specifically, prosecutors say Weisselberg received some $1.76M in untaxed compensation for things like his children’s school tuition and cars.
He has also been fined nearly $2M, to pay back taxes, penalties and interest, The New York Times reports.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is spearheading a separate civil investigation into Trump's alleged manipulation of asset values for personal gain, released a statement saying there is “zero tolerance” for those who lie and cheat communities.
“For years, Mr. Weisselberg broke the law to line his own pockets and fund a lavish lifestyle. Today, that misconduct ends,” James stated. “Let this guilty plea send a loud and clear message: we will crack down on anyone who steals from the public for personal gain because no one is above the law.”