Allen Weisselberg, the decades-long chief financial officer at former President Donald Trump’s family business, was sentenced Tuesday to five months behind bars for financial crimes he committed while working as a top executive but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. has clearly blown any hope of convicting the 2020 election loser for his tax cheating and other white collar crimes.
Weisselberg will also serve five years of probation and pay about $2 million in penalties and back taxes, while the former president is likely to skate on any charges the Manhattan District Attorney could have brought although he still could be prosecuted for stealing top secret documents, trying to usurp the Constitution, tampering with ballots in Georgia and elsewhere, along with myriad other potential crimes.
Weisselberg, 75 – the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization and an employee of the Trump Corporation – will bear the brunt of punishment for the company, which a New York jury in December found guilty of 17 counts of criminal tax fraud for a scheme top executives used to dodge personal income taxes.
A Manhattan jury found two Trump Organization companies guilty on December 6 of multiple charges of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records connected to a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation for top executives.
The Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. were found guilty on all charges they faced.
That verdict was part of a separate investigation but it appears the 2020 election loser’s illegitimate attempts to remain in power are entering a new phase.
Donald Trump and his family were not charged in these cases, but the former president was mentioned repeatedly during the trial by prosecutors who clearly established his connection to the benefits doled out to certain executives, including company-funded apartments, car leases and personal expenses.
Bragg Jr. decided it was too risky to indict former President Donald Trump and was hung up on the idea he might lose the case, according to Mark Pomerantz, a special prosecutor on the case who quit last year after leading the Manhattan DA’s probe.
“I think it was a case that should have been brought,” said Pomerantz. “It’s very hard to take somebody who has not been exposed to those facts on a trip through the capillaries of the financial statements in a meeting or even a meeting or two.”
“The devil was really in the details, and the details couldn’t be explained in kind of short form… ultimately, the DA—the incoming D.A.—and the team were not comfortable going forward,” said Pomerantz. “So did we do a bad job of laying out the facts? Did they not hear what we were saying? Were the facts too complicated to explain in the format that we were using?”
The evidence, Pomerantz admits, was complicated and far-reaching.
Prosecutors had found that Trump had routinely lied to banks to obtain loans that “would not have been made, except for the fact that Donald Trump gave the banks personal financial statements and attested to their accuracy,” Pomerantz said.
After testifying at the trial of the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corp. and implicating both companies in criminal conduct, Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in jail and five years’ probation for devising and operating a 13-year scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities, evading payment of taxes due on $1.76 million in unreported income.
As part of his sentence, Weisselberg also paid over $2 million in back taxes, penalties and interest owed to the New York State and New York City tax authorities.
On August 18, 2022, Weisselberg pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to all 15 counts in the indictment against him, including Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third and Fourth Degrees.
“In Manhattan, you have to play by the rules no matter who you are or who you work for. Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg used his high-level position to secure lavish work perks such as a rent-free luxury Manhattan apartment, multiple Mercedes Benz automobiles and private school tuition for his grandchildren – all without paying required taxes,” said Bragg.
A trial date has been set for next fall in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ sweeping $250 million lawsuit accusing Donald Trump and his family real estate company of “staggering” fraud.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron scheduled the trial for Oct. 2, 2023, in the case alleging that the Trump Organization’s assets were exaggerated for years for loan, insurance and tax purposes.
James filed the suit in September against the former president, his children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr., the Trump Organization and Weisselberg — who was the star prosecution witness in the criminal tax fraud case against the company.
Engoron ordered a monitor to oversee the business practices of the Trump Organization “to ensure there is no further fraud” amid the Attorney General’s sweeping lawsuit against the family real estate business.
In November, US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to weigh criminal charges against Trump over classified materials that were not recovered until the FBI executed a search warrant at Maralgo and his illegal efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The special grand jury in Atlanta that has been investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies committed any crimes while trying to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia has finished its work, bringing the case closer to possible criminal charges against Trump and others.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who was overseeing the panel, issued a two-page order Monday dissolving the special grand jury, saying it had completed its work and submitted a final report.
For now, Bragg is bragging about the small fish he caught instead of apologizing for the traitor and tax cheater who got away.
“Weisselberg admitted to all counts of the indictment against him and testified in open court that for well over a decade, he carried out a fraudulent tax scheme together with others at the Trump Organization that not only enriched himself and his lifestyle by evading taxes and accountability but also had benefits for the companies,” said Bragg. “Now, he and two Trump companies have been convicted of felonies and Weisselberg will serve a jail sentence for his crimes. These consequential felony convictions put on full display the inner workings of former President Trump’s companies and its CFO’s actions.”
But Bragg did not acknowledge his failure to prosecute the election loser directly, even though he came into an office that had spent years building the case. Every other prosecution against Trump’s companies, other corporate entities and his family members has been successful.
According to the defendant’s plea allocution on August 18, 2022, and his testimony at trial over the course of three days on November 15, 17 and 18, 2022, from 2005 to 2018 in his role as Chief Financial Officer and together with other company employees and the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp., Weisselberg engaged in a scheme to defraud federal, state and city tax authorities to enrich himself and other Trump Corporation employees.
Weisselberg admitted that he and other Trump Corporation employees were compensated in a manner so that substantial portions of their income were intentionally unreported or misreported by the companies to the taxing authorities in order to pay less in taxes.
Furthermore, Weisselberg admitted that the scheme involved the failure of the companies to withhold income taxes on wages, salaries, bonuses and other forms of compensation paid to Weisselberg and other company employees.
Weisselberg also admitted the scheme allowed the companies to evade the payment of payroll taxes required to be paid in connection with employee compensation.
Through this concerted effort, Weisselberg received his compensation in ways that enabled him to avoid reporting it to tax authorities. WEISSELBERG then purposefully concealed the compensation from his tax preparer and intentionally omitted it from his tax returns.
As a result, Weisselberg evaded paying taxes on a total of $1.76 million in unreported income that the Trump Corporation and Donald J. Trump paid him in the form of benefits, including paying for his rent on an apartment on Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan, utilities and garage privileges related to the apartment, multiple Mercedes Benz automobiles, private school tuition for his grandchildren, unreported cash and furnishings for his apartment and home in Florida.
None of these payments were reported as taxable income to local, state or federal tax authorities as required by law.
Weisselberg also admitted that the scheme involved the improper payment of substantial amounts of bonuses to certain Trump Corporation employees, including Weisselberg, categorized as non-employee compensation reported on IRS 1099 forms.
Weisselberg – who was, in fact, not a self-employed individual but an employee of the Trump Corporation – was then able to falsely claim business deductions and make annual contributions to a “Keogh” tax-deferred pension plan for self-employed individuals.