Trump Org. The criminal tax fraud trial will begin on Monday



CNN

Jury selection begins Monday in the Trump Organization’s tax fraud and grand larceny trial in New York, a symbolic moment after years of investigations that put former President Donald Trump’s businesses before a jury.

Trump is not a defendant in the case and is not expected to be implicated in any wrongdoing, but the charges against the real estate business he built from the ground up have drawn prosecutors closer to Trump and the political ramifications of the case. It has angered the former president, say those familiar with the matter.

A possible settlement was discussed between Trump Organization lawyers and the Manhattan district attorney several weeks ago, but went nowhere, people familiar with the matter said.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg wanted Trump Organization entities to plead guilty to felony counts; Trump’s lawyers proposed a plea to a felony, the people said. Trump refused to take any plea, they said, because of the potential political impact of pleading guilty.

Two Trump Organization entities are facing charges of tax evasion, grand larceny and falsifying business records in what prosecutors allege was a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by underreporting and paying taxes on workers’ compensation benefits.

If convicted, the Trump Organization could face fines of up to $1.6 million, which is allowed under New York state law for the alleged conduct. The company would not be dissolved or suffer any other consequences. The Trump Organization has pleaded not guilty and said the prosecution is politically motivated.

The star witness in New York is longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who is on paid leave from the company where he worked for nearly 50 years.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August to failing to pay taxes on $1.7 million he received through a company-financed apartment in New York City, the lease on two Mercedes Benzes, private school tuition for two of his children. grandchildren, and personal expenses, including new beds and a flat screen TV. As CFO, Weisselberg was the top executive managing the company’s books.

In recent weeks, Weisselberg has been meeting with Manhattan prosecutors and lawyers for the Trump Organization to prepare for his testimony. He is not expected to implicate Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump or Eric Trump when he testifies.

Under his plea deal, Weisselberg agreed to testify truthfully at trial, but there is no cooperation agreement with prosecutors as they continue to investigate the Trump Organization’s finances.

If he complies with the terms of the deal, Weisselberg faces up to 100 days in jail, compared to the 15 years in state prison he said he would seek if prosecutors are not satisfied with his testimony.

“He has to testify truthfully whether he’s being asked questions by prosecutors or defense attorneys,” Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr., said. of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. “This is not a cooperative agreement, as there is no need to meet with either side to interview or prepare for his testimony. However, Mr. Weisselberg has chosen to meet, has met, and will continue to meet with both sides to ensure his testimony goes well.”

Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney is also expected to testify. He is named as a co-conspirator in the indictment, but was granted immunity from testifying before the state grand jury investigating the company.

Trump’s decision to move on comes as his legal troubles escalate. The Justice Department is investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents and presidential records at Mar-a-Lago, as well as the certification of the results of the 2020 election and efforts to transfer power to President Joe Biden.

Trump is also under criminal investigation by the Fulton County district attorney in Georgia for efforts to overturn the election results.

His legal exposure extends beyond criminal investigations and includes several cases from the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, a defamation lawsuit filed by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll and a $250 million lawsuit filed last month by the New York State Attorney. General Letitia James. James sued Trump and his three oldest children, alleging that he defrauded lenders and insurance companies by manipulating the value of homes, golf courses and office buildings in financial statements used to get favorable rates. Trump has denied all charges.

The Trump team consists of New York criminal defense attorneys Alan Futerfas and Susan Necheles. Recently, two Philadelphia lawyers who represented Trump in his second impeachment trial through Jan. 6 were brought to trial: Michael van der Veen, a personal injury attorney, and William Brennan, who has represented clients on weapons and sexual assault charges. .

The lead prosecutors in the case are Susan Hoffinger, executive assistant district attorney and chief of investigations and a longtime criminal defense attorney, and senior trial attorney Joshua Steinglass, who has spent more than two decades in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. He has prosecuted dozens of cases, including nearly a dozen members of the Proud Boys, for the 2018 attack outside the Republican Club on New York’s Upper East Side.