Trump Company Set For Criminal Trial In Off-Books Pay Scheme

by | Oct 23, 2022 | Politics

NEW YORK (AP) — More than three years after Manhattan prosecutors started investigating Donald Trump — after going to the Supreme Court twice to gain access to his tax records — the only criminal trial to arise from their efforts is about to begin.No, the former president isn’t going on trial. His company is.The Trump Organization, the holding company for Trump’s buildings, golf courses and other assets, is accused of helping some top executives avoid income taxes on compensation they got in addition to their salaries, like rent-free apartments and luxury cars.AdvertisementTrump signed some of the checks at the center of the case but he is not charged with anything and is not expected to testify or attend the trial, which starts Monday with jury selection.If convicted, the Trump Organization could be fined more than $1 million — but that’s not the only potential fallout.Trump’s ardent supporters aren’t likely to abandon him, no matter the outcome, but a guilty verdict could hamper his company’s ability to get loans and make deals. New York City, for one, could use the legal cloud as new justification for seeking to oust the company from running a city-owned golf course.Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, has said that his office’s investigation of Trump is “active and ongoing,” and that no final decision has been made on whether he could face criminal charges in the future.AdvertisementTrump, a Republican, has decried the probe as a “political witch hunt.”The Trump Organization has said it did nothing wrong and that it looks forward “to having our day in court.”Judge Juan Manuel Merchan expects the criminal tax fraud trial, heavy on financial records and expert testimony, to take at least four weeks once a jury is seated. Given Trump’s fame as a businessman and polarizing politician, it could take a while to find jurors who feel they can judge the case impartially.The star witness for the prosecution is expected to be Allen Weisselberg, one of Trump’s most trusted senior executives.Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August to taking in over $1.7 million worth of untaxed perks from the company, including school tuition for his grandchildren, a Manhattan apartment and Mercedes cars for him and his wife.His testimony comes as part of a plea agreement that requires him to serve up to five months in New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex, though he could be released after a little more than three with good behavior. The former Trump Organization chief financial officer must also pay nearly $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest and complete five years of probation.AdvertisementWeisselberg, 75, has intimate knowledge of the Trump Organization’s financial dealings from nearly five decades at the company, but he is not expected to implicate Trump or any members of the Trump family in his testimony.In pleading guilty, Weisselberg pinned bl …

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