Prosecutors indicted the Trump Organization for a 15-year "scheme to defraud" the government and charged its chief financial officer with grand larceny and tax fraud in a Manhattan courtroom Thursday afternoon.
Allen Weisselberg, former president Donald Trump’s longtime CFO, pleaded not guilty during a brief arraignment hearing that began about 2:20 p.m.
Weisselberg walked into the courtroom in a dark suit, surrounded by detectives and court officers. He did not respond to questions from reporters in the hallway outside.
Weisselberg, 73, had surrendered at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office early Thursday, the morning after a grand jury filed indictments against him and the Trump Organization.
Weisselberg was released after the hearing, but he was required to surrender his passport after prosecutors said he was a "flight risk."
An attorney for the Trump Organization also pleaded not guilty on the company’s behalf. Prosecutors also charged a subsidiary called Trump Payroll Corp., which handles the company’s benefits and payments to employees.
In all, 15 criminal charges were filed against Weisselberg, according to the indictment.
They included counts of conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. In many of the counts, the two Trump entities were charged along with Weisselberg.
Carey Dunne, a prosecutor with the District Attorney’s Office, said in the hearing that the charges were related to an "off-the-books tax fraud scheme" that lasted for 15 years. He said that the scheme allowed Trump Organization executives to get "secret pay raises" while not paying proper taxes.
"To put it bluntly, this was a sweeping and audacious illegal payment scheme," Dunne said. He rejected an allegation from the Trump Organization that the charges were part of a politically motivated effort to hurt Trump: "It’s not about politics," Dunne said.
Trump Organization attorney Alan Futerfas said he would not respond to the allegations in the hearing.