October 6, 2022

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Donald Trump’s chief financial officer is expected to plead guilty to tax violations in a deal that would require him to testify about illicit business practices at the former president’s company, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
Allen Weisselberg is charged with taking more than $2.4 million in off-the-books compensation from the Trump Organisation over several years, including untaxed perks like rent, car payments and school tuition.

The plea deal would require Weisselberg speak in court about the company’s role in the alleged compensation arrangement and possibly serve as a witness when the Trump Organisation goes on trial in October on related charges, the people said.

Allen Weisselberg is the man responsible for Donald Trump's accounts.
Allen Weisselberg is the man responsible for Donald Trump’s accounts. (AP)

The two people were not authorised to speak publicly about the case and did so on condition of anonymity.

Weisselberg, 75, is likely to receive a sentence of five months in jail, to be served at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island complex, and he could be required to pay about $3 million in restitution, including taxes, penalties and interest, the people said. If that punishment holds, Weisselberg would be eligible for release after about 100 days.

Messages seeking comment were left with the Manhattan district attorney’s office and lawyers for Weisselberg and the Trump Organisation.

Weisselberg is the only person to face criminal charges so far in the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running investigation of the company’s business practices.

People arrested in New York are typically sent to the controversial Rikers Island Jail.
Allen Weisselberg will likely spend several months locked up at New York’s notorious Rikers Island. (AAP)

Long seen as one of Trump’s most loyal business associates, Weisselberg was arrested in July 2021. His lawyers have argued the Democrat-led district attorney’s office was punishing him because he wouldn’t offer information that would damage Trump.

The district attorney has also been investigating whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of its properties to obtain loans or reduce tax bills.

Former District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who started the investigation, last year directed his deputies to present evidence to a grand jury and seek an indictment of Trump, according to former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the probe.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is accused of giving a light sentence to Robert Hadden.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance started the investigation before his retirement. (AP)

But after Vance left office, his successor, Alvin Bragg, allowed the grand jury to disband without charges. Both prosecutors are Democrats. Bragg has said the investigation is continuing.

The Trump Organisation is not involved in Weisselberg’s expected guilty plea and is scheduled to be tried in the alleged compensation scheme in October.

Prosecutors alleged that the company gave untaxed fringe benefits to senior executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was accused of defrauding the federal government, state and city out of more than $1.3 million in unpaid taxes and undeserved tax refunds.

Allen Weisselberg enters court surrounded by protesters.
Allen Weisselberg enters court surrounded by protesters. (AP)

Under state law, punishment for the most serious charge against Weisselberg, grand larceny, could carry a penalty as high as 15 years in prison. But the charge carries no mandatory minimum, and most first-time offenders in tax-related cases never end up behind bars.

The tax fraud charges against the Trump Organisation are punishable by a fine of double the amount of unpaid taxes, or $360,000, whichever is larger.

Trump has not been charged in the criminal probe. The Republican has decried the New York investigations as a “political witch hunt,” has said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate business and in no way a crime.

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

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