The Manhattan district attorney’s office has charged the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, with tax crimes connected to a set of benefits given to employees in a 15-year tax scheme.
On Thursday, the Trump Organization and Weisselberg were arraigned at the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, where the charges were announced. Weisselberg faced grand larceny, tax fraud and other charges, to which he pleaded not guilty.
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Prosecutors allege he hid $1.7 million in compensation from tax authorities on perks like the lease on his car, paying rent for his apartment, his kids’ tuition and more. The Trump Organization allegedly falsified the accounting, made fake tax record entries and destroyed them.
“Today is an important marker in the ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “In the indictment, we allege, among other things, financial wrongdoing whereby the Trump Organization engaged in a scheme with Mr. Weisselberg to avoid paying taxes on certain compensation. This investigation will continue, and we will follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead.”
Weisselberg was fingerprinted and processed before standing before the New York State Criminal Court. Attorneys for the Trump Organization also appeared in court for arraignment on the indictment.
This stands as the first grand jury indictment after a years-long probe by the attorney’s office into the former president’s company. They have been actively investigating Weisselberg and his employees for months to see if they avoided paying taxes on certain benefits paid for by the Trump Organization such as private school tuition, cars and other living expenses. Prosecutors have also looked into the cash bonuses that were given to employees and whether taxes were paid on those.
Although Donald Trump faced multiple federal and state prosecutorial inquiries during his administration, he and the members of his family will not be charged as a part of this case. This marks the first time the Trump Organization has been charged with allegedly criminal conduct.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, lawyers defending the Trump Organization met with prosecutors twice in the last week to present arguments about why the Trump Organization shouldn’t face criminal charges.
Trump himself has lashed out at the charges in recent weeks, declaring that this case is “devastating” for New York.
“Having politically motivated prosecutors, people who actually got elected because they will ‘get Donald Trump,’ is a very dangerous thing for our Country,” Trump said in a statement earlier this week. “Why would anyone bring their company to New York, or even stay in New York, knowing these Radical Left Democrats would willingly target their company if viewed as a political opponent? It is devastating for New York!”
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