Trump executive pleads guilty in tax case, agrees to testify

NEW YORK — A chief executive of former President Donald Trump’s family business pleaded guilty Thursday to tax evasion on a free apartment and other benefits, and struck a deal with prosecutors that would allow him to become a key witness against the company at a trial this fall.

Allen Weisselberg, a senior adviser to the Trump Organization and former chief financial officer of the company, pleaded guilty to all 15 charges he faced in the case.

In a low, slightly husky voice, Weisselberg admitted that he had included more than $1.7 million in tax-free extras — including school fees for his grandchildren, free rent for an apartment in Manhattan, and lease payments for a luxury car — and explicitly part to keep the plums out of the door. books.

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan agreed to sentence the 75-year-old warden to five months in prison at the Rikers Island prison complex in New York City, though he will be eligible for release after just over three months if he behaves behind bars . The judge said Weisselberg must pay nearly $2 million in taxes, fines and interest and complete a five-year probation period.

The plea deal also requires Weisselberg to truthfully testify as a witness to the prosecution when the Trump Organization faces trial on related charges in October. The company is accused of helping Weisselberg and other executives evade income taxes by failing to accurately report their full compensation to the government. Trump himself will not be charged in the case.

Weisselberg will remain out on bail until he is formally convicted after the company’s trial. He said nothing as he left the court and did not answer when a reporter asked if he had a message for Trump. If Weisselberg does not meet the terms of the plea, prosecutors said they would demand a “significant state prison sentence”, and Merchan warned he could be subject to the maximum penalty for the highest charge – grand theft – of 15 years.

Weisselberg’s attorney Nicholas Gravante Jr. said his client pleaded guilty “to end this case and the years of legal and personal nightmares it has caused him and his family.”

READ ALSO -  US aircraft carrier visits South Korea amid North Korean threats

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that Weisselberg’s plea “directly implicates the Trump organization in a wide variety of criminal activities and requires Weisselberg to give invaluable testimony in the upcoming lawsuit against the company.”

“We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization,” he added.

Weisselberg’s testimony could weaken the company’s defenses. If convicted, the company could be fined double the amount in unpaid taxes or possibly put on probation and forced to change its business practices.

The company on Thursday praised Weisselberg as a trusted, honorable employee who it says has been “persecuted and threatened by law enforcement, especially the Manhattan District Attorney, in their never-ending, politically motivated quest to get President Trump.”

In a statement, the company accused prosecutors of trying to pressure Weisselberg to defame Trump, and of seeking to file a criminal case with known executive benefits, such as a company car.

The company, which was not involved in Weisselberg’s admission of guilt on Thursday, said it did nothing wrong, will plead not guilty and is looking forward to “our day in court”.

Weisselberg, seen as one of Trump’s most loyal business associates, is the only person to face criminal charges so far in the Manhattan District Attorney’s long-running investigation into the company. Weisselberg started working for the Trump Organization in 1973, when it was led by Trump’s father, Fred. Following his arrest in July 2021, the company changed his title from CFO to senior advisor. The position of CFO remains vacant.

Weisselberg agreed to plead guilty days after a court hearing in which Merchan rejected his request to dismiss the charges. The judge rejected the defense’s argument that the prosecutor’s office punished Weisselberg for not offering information that would harm Trump.

The prosecutor also investigated whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of his properties in order to obtain loans or reduce tax bills.

READ ALSO -  Live from the markets | Europe tonic waiting, focus on Ecofin

Then-prosecutor Cyrus Vance Jr., who began the investigation, ordered his deputies last year to present evidence to a grand jury and seek charges against Trump, said former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the investigation. But after Vance left office in January, his successor, Bragg, allowed the grand jury to dissolve without charge. Both prosecutors are Democrats. Bragg has said the investigation is continuing.

Prosecutors alleged that the company provided tax-free fringe benefits to senior executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was charged with defrauding the federal, state and city of over $900,000 in unpaid taxes and unearned tax refunds.

Trump, a Republican, has labeled the New York investigations a “political witch hunt” and has said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate industry and not a crime in any way.

Last week, Trump sat for a statement in the parallel civil investigation of New York Attorney General Letitia James into allegations that Trump’s company misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values. Trump invoked the protection of his Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination more than 400 times.

James, whose investigation uncovered the evidence leading to Weisselberg’s indictment, said in a statement: “Let this guilty plea send a loud and clear message: We will crack down on anyone who steals from the public for personal gain, because no one is above the law. law.”


Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.


Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at Send confidential tips by visiting

Copyright 2022 ABC NEWS. All rights reserved.
Follow WT LOCAL on Social Media for the Latest News and Updates.
Share this news on your Facebook,Twitter and Whatsapp.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter