On Thursday, former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg plead guilty to fifteen criminal tax fraud charges. Particularly, Weisselberg was charged with avoid tax payments on over $1.7 million in corporate benefits, including payments for school tuition, cars, and rent.
It’s important to note that former President Donald Trump is not liable in the proceedings; the alleged tax fraud would have been Weisselberg’s personal taxes, not that of the Trump Organization. However, there is an investigation into the Trump Organization for fraud in New York State.
The trial for the Trump Organization is set to be held on October 24. Donald Trump has maintained no wrongdoing on his part.
Weisselberg himself had previously plead not guilty to these charges, but he agreed in the plea deal to testify “on his role in the corporate benefits scheme.” At the same time, Weisselberg has “refused to implicate Trump or his family.”
According to The National Review, Weisselberg “will not cooperate with a broader investigation into Mr. Trump.” The New York Times also published an article which discusses what Weisselberg’s testimony could mean. They contend that the deal “would bring prosecutors no closer to indicting the former president but would nonetheless brand one of his most trusted lieutenants a felon.” The article restated, “Mr. Weisselberg, while admitting his own guilt, is not expected to implicate anyone in the Trump family.”
The National Review further states that Weisselberg’s guilty plea could actually be the end of the investigation into the Trump Organization, as Weisselberg is an agent or subsidiary of the Trump Organization, and, as the indictment alleges a conspiracy took place, current antitrust laws state that a “corporation can’t conspire with its own subsidiaries.”
Adding to the confusion around whether the Trump Organization could have carried out any financial wrongdoing is the way the indictment is read; according to the document, an “Unindicted Co-conspirator #1” worked with Weisselberg to defraud the IRS.
The indictment reads:
“(The unnamed defendants and others, including an co-conspirator) agreed to and implemented a compensation scheme with the object of enabling Weisselberg to underreport his income to federal authorities, and thereby evade taxes and falsely claim federal tax refunds to which he was not entitled. . .”
The indictment also alleges that in 2005, the Trump Organization leased an apartment for Weisselberg for his primary residence, and later, the corporation underreported Weisselberg’s income for taxpaying purposes.
The National Review added that the agent mentioned in the indictment against Weisselberg could be the Trump Organization’s outside tax preparer. The Trump Organization company comptroller, Jeffrey S. McConney, could also be the “Unindicted Co-Conspirator #1.”
Fortune magazine reports that Weisselberg’s plea required him to admit that he participated in a scheme to avoid taxes by being paid with the aforementioned rent, vehicles, and an apartment.
Weisselberg has worked for the Trump Organization for more than forty years, beginning his career there with Donald Trump’s father was still the head of the organization.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office sees Weisselberg’s guilty plea as a “big win.”
If the Trump Organization is convicted in the case, they could receive heavy fines.
President Trump was called to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office last week to testify regarding the civil case. Trump plead the fifth to a majority of the questions he was asked by the state Attorney General Letitia James.
It is possible, however, that the New York Attorney General could possibly move to dissolve a company if a company “(is) found to have a pattern of illegal conduct.” However, a court would need to approve such a penalty.
Weisselberg’s attorney described his client’s decision to accept the guilty plea as “one of the most difficult decisions of (Weisselberg’s) life.” The attorney went on to say that his client wanted to end the “years-long legal and personal nightmare” that the investigation had brought about.