Trump CFO’s plea deal could make him a prosecution witness

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s chief financial officer is expected to plead guilty to tax offenses Thursday in a deal that would force him to testify about illicit business practices at the former president’s company, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

Allen Weisselberg is accused of taking over $1.7 million in compensation not recorded on the books of the Trump Organization for several years, including untaxed benefits such as rent, car payments and school tuition.

The plea deal would require Weisselberg to speak in court Thursday about the company’s role in the alleged compensation deal and possibly serve as a witness when the Trump Organization goes on trial in October on related charges, the people said.

The two people were not authorized to speak publicly about the case and did so on condition of anonymity.

Weisselberg, 75, is likely to receive a five-month jail sentence, to be served at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island resort, and could be required to pay about $2 million in restitution, including taxes, penalties and interest, the people said. he said he. If that punishment sticks, Weisselberg could be released after about 100 days.

Messages seeking comment were left with the Manhattan district attorney’s office and attorneys for Weisselberg and the Trump Organization.

Weisselberg is the only person facing criminal charges so far in the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running investigation into the company’s business practices.

Seen as one of Trump’s most loyal business associates, Weisselberg was arrested in July 2021. His lawyers have argued that the Democratic-led district attorney’s office was punishing him because he did not offer information that would harm Trump.

The district attorney has also been investigating whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about their property values ​​to get loans or lower tax bills.

Former district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who launched the investigation, last year ordered his deputies to present evidence to a grand jury and seek an indictment against Trump, according to former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the investigation.

But after Vance left office, his successor, Alvin Bragg, allowed the grand jury to disband without charge. Both prosecutors are Democrats. Bragg has said the investigation is continuing.

The Trump Organization is not involved in Weisselberg’s expected guilty plea on Thursday and he is scheduled to stand trial in the alleged compensation scheme in October.

Prosecutors alleged the company gave tax-free fringe benefits to top executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was charged with defrauding the federal, state and city governments out of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and unearned tax refunds.

Under state law, the punishment for Weisselberg’s most serious charge, grand theft, could carry up to 15 years in prison. But the charge has no mandatory minimum, and most first-time offenders in tax-related cases never end up behind bars.

Tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization carry a penalty of twice the amount of unpaid taxes, or $250,000, whichever is greater.

Trump has not been charged in the criminal investigation. The Republican denounced the New York investigations as a “political witch hunt” and said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate business and in no way a crime.

Last week, Trump sat down 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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