Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads not guilty to tax fraud
Top Trump Org official to enter plea after surrendering to DA
Trump Organization, CFO expected to be charged with tax-related crimes
New York is opening, but there’s still entertainment for those staying in
Trump blasts prosecutors as Trump Org. grand jury nears indictment vote
Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, pleaded not guilty to tax fraud and other charges Thursday — as lawyers for the company blasted the prosecution as a politically driven effort by Manhattan DA Cy Vance to target former President Donald Trump.
In addition to the tax fraud rap, Weisselberg was also hit with conspiracy, grand larceny and falsifying business records charges, prosecutors said in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Attorneys for the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. also appeared in court and entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the companies.
Prosecutors charged the company and Weisselberg engaged in a 15-year tax fraud scheme to pay the CFO — a longtime Trump loyalist — and other executives at the company in “manner that was ‘off the books,’” according to an indictment unsealed soon after the court appearance.
“The beneficiaries of the scheme received substantial portions of their income through indirect and disguised means, with compensation that was unreported or misreported by the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp,” the indictment states.
Prosecutors had probed whether Weisselberg and his family had accepted a number of gifts from the former president during his decades-long employment at the organization — but failed to pay taxes on the bonuses.
Weisselberg appeared in handcuffs at the hearing and appeared frazzled and red in the face.
In a statement prior to his arraignment Thursday, Weisselberg’s attorneys, Mary Mulligan and Bryan Skarlatos, said he intends to fight the charges in court.
The indictment against the longtime Trump confidante are the first charges brought by Vance, who, along with New York Attorney General Letitia James, have been investigating Trump’s business empire for two years.
Both prosecutors, who are Democrats, watched from the gallery as Weisselberg appeared in the 11th-floor courtroom at 100 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan.
In a statement earlier Thursday, the Trump Organization blasted the prosecution, calling Weisselberg “a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former president.”
“This is not justice; this is politics,” the company said.
Trump also slammed the impending indictment last week, saying it’s the work of “radical left prosecutors” who are “rude, nasty, and totally biased.”
A lawyer for Trump told The Post previously that the former president is not expected to be charged this week — and ripped the charges against Weisselberg, which had not yet been filed.
“In my more than 50 years of practice, never before have I seen the District Attorney’s Office target a company over employee compensation or fringe benefits,” attorney Ron Fischetti said in a statement last Friday.
“The IRS would not, and has not, brought a case like this. Even the financial institutions responsible for causing the 2008 financial crises, the worst financial crisis since the great depression, were not prosecuted,” he added.
With Post wires
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article