On Thursday, The Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, its chief financial officer, were charged by New York prosecutors with a 15-year tax scheme. This would mark the first criminal case against the United States’ former president’s company.
According to the indictment unsealed by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Trump Organization and another entity called Trump Payroll Corporation were charged with ten counts, while Allen Weisselberg was charged with 15 felony counts from an alleged scheme that dates back to 2005. The scheme was set up to compensate Weisselberg and some other executives at the Trump Organization in a way that was off the books. Weisselberg’s charges read grand larceny and offering false instrument business records while he was charged with the other executives with a scheme to defraud, falsifying business records, conspiracy, and criminal tax fraud.
According to prosecutors, investigations are ongoing, and a full probe of the organization is in progress. Prosecutors are trying to find out if Trump Organization misled insurers, lenders, and tax authorities about the value of some of its properties, hush-money payments to keep an alleged affair with Trump silent, as well as the treatment of tax deductions.
The indictment, which focuses mainly on Weisselberg, highlighted many luxury perks he took from the company in place of compensation. Some of them include an apartment in the Upper West Side, two Mercedes Benz cars, private school tuition for two family members who are reportedly his grandchildren.
The indictment alleged that Weisselberg evaded taxes amounting to about $1.76 million in income from 2005 throughout the years he was a New York City resident. Prosecutors also alleged that he evaded more than $900,000 in federal, state, and city taxes over this period and got a total of $133,124 in state tax refunds, which he was not supposed to receive.
The tax scheme was set up to allow certain employees to understate their compensations substantially so they could pay significantly lower federal, state, and local taxes than what they ought to pay.
Weisselberg pleaded not guilty in a courtroom in New York Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon. Justice Juan Merchan released him on his own recognizance and issued an order to turn in his passport.
Former President Donald Trump has blown hot in a statement following the unsealing of the indictment. He criticized the investigation led by Democrats Cyrus Vance Jr. and Letitia James, the Manhattan district attorney and the New York state attorney general. Trump described it as a political witch hunt by the radical left democrats while claiming it’s causing a division in the country.
The Trump Organization has also said Weisselberg was being used to harm the former president.
The indictment comes after two years of investigation by the New York State attorney general. Many of Trump’s critics have lent their support, saying it represents a fraction of accountability for a man who survived two impeachments special investigation by Robert Mueller.
Many also think there might be further charges coming up. According to Rebecca Ricigliano, a former federal prosecutor in New York, “The indictment points out classic old-school fraud, and it looks a lot like Weisselberg is getting enormous pressure so he can turn on his longtime boss, Donald Trump.”
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