NEW YORK (AP) – Donald Trump’s company and longtime chief financial officer were indicted Thursday on a “comprehensive and bold” tax fraud scheme that allegedly brought the Trump executive more than $ 1.7 million in compensation. including apartment rental, car payments, and school fees.
It is the first criminal case The two-year investigation by the New York authorities against the former president has come to nothing. According to the indictment filed on Wednesday and released Thursday, CFO Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization defrauded the state and city of taxes from 2005 through this year by plotting to pay executives off the books.
Both Weißelberg and lawyers from the Trump organization pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutor Carey Dunne described a 15-year program that was “orchestrated by the highest executives.”
Trump card himself was not charged at this stage of the investigation, which was jointly run by Manhattan’s District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats. Dunne claimed that politics did not play a role in the decision to bring charges.
“Politics is not a part of the jury and I can assure you it was not a part of this,” said Dunne.
The indictment states that Weisselberg, 73, kept silent about residing in New York City in order to avoid the city’s income tax.
He was photographed entering a building around 6:20 a.m. on Thursday that houses both the criminal courts and the Manhattan prosecutor’s office. In the afternoon, he was taken to court with his hands tied behind his back.
Weisselberg’s attorneys Mary Mulligan and Bryan Skarlatos said in a statement prior to his appearance that the executive branch would “fight these allegations in court.” Skarlatos later said Dunne’s remarks were misleading about his client.
Weißelberg was asked to surrender his passport after prosecutors labeled him a flight risk with access to private jets for international travel. However, he was released without bail and left the courthouse without commenting to the assembled reporters.
A lieutenant too Generations of trumps‘Weißelberg has an in-depth understanding of the former president’s business dealings, and the case could give prosecutors an opportunity to pressure him to collaborate in an ongoing investigation into other aspects of the company’s business.
But so far There is no sign of the man Is seen by Trump’s daughter Ivanka as a “bitterly loyal” MP who “stood by my father and our family” for decades, will suddenly attack her.
In a statement Thursday the Trump organization defended Weisselberg, saying the 48-year-old employee was being used by the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office as “horses in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former president.” .
“That is no justice; that’s politics, ”the Trump Organization said, arguing that neither the IRS nor any other district attorney would ever consider bringing such employee benefit charges.
Trump, a Republican, did not respond to shouted questions from reporters about the case when he visited Texas on Wednesday. Earlier this week, he branded New York attorneys as “rude, nasty and completely biased” and said his company’s actions were “common practice throughout US business and in no way a crime.”
In court, Trump organization attorney Alan Futerfas said Dunne’s statements sounded like a “press release,” but made no further comment.
Vance declined to comment on the case when he arrived at the courthouse on Thursday, saying only, “See you all at 2:15 pm” – a reference to Weißelberg’s expected prosecution time.
Vance, who leaves office at the end of the year, has conducted an extensive investigation into a wide variety of matters affecting Trump and the Trump Organization, such as: Hush money payments to women on behalf of Trump and Truthfulness in real estate appraisals and tax bills, among others.
Vance fought a long battle to get Trump’s tax records and has subpoenaed documents and interviewed corporate executives and other Trump insiders.
James hired two lawyers from her office work with Vance’s team on the criminal investigation while she continues her own civil investigation.
Weisselberg, a very private man who lived in a modest house on Long Island for years, was scrutinized by Vance’s investigators over questions about his son’s use of a Trump apartment at little or no cost, among other things.
Barry Weisselberg, the a Ice rink operated by Trump in Central Park, stated in a 2018 divorce certificate that the apartment in Trump Parc East was “a company apartment, so we didn’t rent.”
Barry’s ex-wife Jen Weisselberg is cooperating in both investigations and has provided the investigators with tons of tax records and other documents. In March, she told The New Yorker that some compensation for Trump Organization executives was in the form of apartments and other items, and that “only a small portion of your salary is reported”.
The Trump Organization is the unit through which the former president manages his numerous corporate affairs, including his investments in office towers, hotels, and golf courses, his numerous marketing deals, and his television activities. Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric have run the company’s day-to-day operations since he became president.
James Repetti, tax attorney and professor at Boston College Law School, said a company like the Trump Organization has a general obligation to levy taxes not only on salary but also on other forms of compensation – such as the use of an apartment or a car – to be retained.
Such perks would not be considered taxable income if they were required as a prerequisite for employment, Repetti said, such as providing an apartment for an employee who needs to be in the office or on site at unusual or frequent times, or use of a car for business purposes.
Another prominent New York real estate figure, the late Leona Helmsley, was convicted of tax fraud in a federal case that emerged from their company pay to renovate their home without her reporting that as income.
The Trump Organization case involves potential violations of New York state tax laws.
“The IRS routinely looks for fringe benefit abuse when reviewing closely related companies,” Repetti said. “The temptation for the company is to have a tax deduction on the expense while the recipient does not record it as income.”
Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney who cooperated with Vance’s investigation, wrote in his book “Untreu” that Trump and Weisselberg “were former masters at mapping expenses related to non-business matters and finding a way to categorize them so that they weren’t taxed”.
Weißelberg began working for Trump’s real estate developer father, Fred, after answering a newspaper ad for an accountant in 1973 and working his way up.
Cautious – apart from an appearance as a guest judge in 2004 Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice” – Weißelberg was barely mentioned in news articles before Trump ran to run for president and questions about the boss’s finances and charity arose.
Cohen said Weisselberg was the one who decided how to secretly refund him for a payment of $ 130,000 Porn actress Stormy Daniels. The CFO hit the headlines again when it became known that his signature appeared on one of the reimbursement checks.
Barbara Res, who supervised the construction of Manhattan’s Trump Tower, says she was surprised to learn of the seemingly huge role Weißelberg has played in Trump’s business. She recalls years ago just collecting rent, paying bills and doing Trump’s taxes.
“He was the chief accountant, but he wasn’t one of the inner circle. He came in with his head bowed: ‘Yes, Mr. Trump. No, Mr. Trump, “Res said.” He’s the only person I know who would call him Mr. Trump. Now he’s a great success. “
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