Trump Org Found Guilty Of Fraud

By Terrance Turner

Dec. 6, 2022

The Trump Organization has been found guilty of all charges in a sweeping, 15-year tax fraud scheme that prosecutors said was orchestrated by top company executives . A jury in Manhattan deliberated for just over a day before convicting the Organization on 17 charges. They include fraud, conspiracy, tax fraud, and falsifying business records, according to MSNBC.

The charges stemmed from a 2021 indictment against two entities under the Trump Org banner — the Trump Corporation (which encompasses most of his business empire) and the Trump Payroll Corporation (which processes payments to staff). According to Rolling Stone, the Trump Corporation was convicted on all nine counts it face; the Trump Payroll Corporation was convicted on another eight counts.

Prosecutors alleged the companies gave employees lavish benefits without reporting them, in order to avoid paying taxes on them. They also said the companies paid personal expenses of some executives without reporting them as income, and compensated them as independent contractors instead of full-time employees. The scheme centered on Allen Weisselberg, former chief financial officer for the Trump Org. He was the prosecution’s star witness.

The Trial

Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 felony tax charges in August. He admitted hiding the part of his salary that was paid through untaxed benefits like a luxury apartment, Mercedes-Benz leases for him and his wife, and private school tuition for his grandchildren. (Trump signed off on it.) The compensation was never reported to New York State or to the IRS, per NPR.

And there’s more. Beginning in 2005, Weisselberg lived in an apartment rent-free on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The Trump Corporation leased the apartment. Not only did the company pay the rent, it covered his utility and parking fees, the indictment claimed.

As part of his plea deal, Weisselberg agreed to testify truthfully and serve five months in jail. (Plus five years probation.) If he didn’t testify truthfully, he’d get more time in prison. So the pressure was on Weisselberg to spill the beans. And he delivered.

When he plead guilty in August, Weisselberg made a bombshell admission. Judge Juan Merchan asked Weisselberg if he “engaged in a scheme” with the Trump Organization “to defraud federal, New York state, and New York City tax authorities.”

“Yes, your honor,” Weisselberg answered.

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Implications.

Donald Trump is not a defendant in this case. And one of his lawyers says he knew nothing about this. “Every witness repeatedly testified that President Trump and the Trump family knew nothing about Allen Weisselberg’s actions,” Susan Necheles said in a statement.

But prosecutors disagree. One of them argued that the ex-president was “explicitly sanctioning tax fraud.” (The defense objected.) Trump may not be directly implicated in these crimes. But his company has suffered a major blow. And today’s ruling only strengthens the case by the New York AG.

New York Civil Lawsuit

New York attorney general Letitia James filed a civil lawsuit against the Trump organization on September 21st. (Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr. are named as defendants in the suit, along with the Organization and its former CFO Allen Weisselberg.) Her suit, filed against Donald Trump his company and three of his children, alleges staggering fraud.

James announced the news in a press conference. “Following a comprehensive investigation by my office, including witnesses, interviews with more than 65 witnesses, and review of millions of documents that were submitted by Mr. Trump and others, I am announcing that today, we are filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to enrich himself, his family, and his company.

The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, to cheat the system — thereby cheating all of us. He did this with the help of the other defendants: his children, Donald Trump, Jr, Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and former Trump organization chairperson Allen Weisselberg.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 21: NY Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the office of the Attorney General on September 21, 2022 in New York, New York. Her office is suing former President Donald J. Trump and his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump accusing the family of fraudulent statements of financial conditions to obtain millions in economic benefits. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
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More Allegations

“Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization repeatedly and persistently manipulated the value of assets — to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company; to pay lower taxes; to satisfy continuing loan requirements; and to induce insurance companies to provide insurance coverage with higher limits and at lower premiums. This conduct was all in violation of executive law Section 6312, which gives the Attorney General broad and special powers to go after persistent and repeated fraud and illegality,” James said.

She alleged that “they violated several state and criminal laws, including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud, and engaging in a conspiracy to commit each of these state law violations. We believe the conduct alleged in this action also violates federal criminal law, including issuing false statements to financial institutions and bank fraud.” James said she would refer those crimes to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.

The lawsuit seeks to remove Trump and his children from their roles at their organizations. And it bans them from future leadership roles in the state of NY. James is seeking $250 million that was illegally obtained.

Reaction To Today’s Verdict

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was pleased with the verdict. “This was a case about greed and cheating. In Manhattan, no corporation is above the law,” he said in a statement. “For 13 years the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation got away with a scheme that awarded high-level executives with lavish perks and compensation while intentionally concealing the benefits from the taxing authorities to avoid paying taxes.

Today’s verdict holds these Trump companies accountable for their long-running criminal scheme — in addition to Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who has pled guilty. [He] testified at trial and will now be sentenced to serve time in jail.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 06: Prosecutors Joshua Steinglass and Susan Hoffinger listen as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg gives a brief comment after the conclusion of the Trump Organization tax fraud trial at the New York Supreme Court on December 06, 2022 in New York City. A jury found the Trump Organization guilty on all counts and convicted the organization of conspiracy, criminal tax fraud, falsifying business records, and filing false tax returns in a scheme to defraud the state. The case is unrelated to the civil case being brought by NY Attorney General Letitia James against the Trump Organization. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
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James reacted to the verdict, too. “We can have no tolerance for individuals or organizations that violate our laws to line their pockets,” she said. “I was proud to assist in this important case. This verdict sends a clear message that no one, and no organization, is above our laws.”qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq

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