Trump’s longtime finance director faces conviction in tax fraud scheme | lifestyle

NEW YORK (AP) — Allen Weisselberg, the longtime manager of Donald Trump’s real estate empire whose testimony helped convict the former president’s company of tax fraud, will be sentenced Tuesday for evading taxes on $1.7 million in employment benefits.

New York Judge Juan Manuel Merchan is scheduled to sentence Weisselberg, a senior Trump Organization adviser and former chief financial officer, to five months in prison under an August plea deal.

Weisselberg, 75, received the sentence when he agreed to plead guilty to 15 tax crimes and testify against the company where he has worked since the mid-1980s.

When Weisselberg begins serving his sentence, he is expected to be locked up at New York’s infamous Rikers Island prison complex. If he serves behind bars, he will be eligible for release after more than three months.

As part of his plea agreement, Weisselberg must also pay nearly $2 million in back taxes, penalties and interest, which he said he has made significant progress in paying. He must also complete a five-year probationary period.

Weisselberg faced up to 15 years in prison — the maximum sentence for the top grand larceny charge — if he broke the deal or did not testify truthfully in the Trump Organization trial. He is the only person charged in the Manhattan district attorney’s three-year investigation into Trump and his business practices.

Weisselberg testified for three days and offered a glimpse into the inner workings of Trump’s real estate empire. Weisselberg worked for the Trump family for nearly 50 years, starting as an accountant for his developer father Fred Trump in 1973 before joining Donald Trump in 1986 and helping expand the focus of the family business beyond New York into a global golf and hotel brand.

Weisselberg told jurors he betrayed the Trump family’s trust by conspiring with an underling to hide more than a decade of extra income, including a free Manhattan apartment, luxury cars and private tuition for his grandchildren. He said they falsified payroll records and issued falsified W-2 forms.

A Manhattan jury convicted the Trump Organization in December, finding that Weisselberg was a “senior management” agent charged with acting on behalf of the company and its various entities. Weisselberg’s arrangement lowered his own personal income taxes, but also saved the company money because it didn’t have to pay him more to cover the cost of the benefits.

Prosecutors said other Trump Organization executives also accepted unofficial compensation. Weisselberg himself was accused of defrauding the federal government, the state and the city of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and undeserved tax refunds.

The Trump Organization is expected to be sentenced on Friday and faces up to $1.6 million in fines.

Weisselberg testified that neither Trump nor his family knew about the scheme, telling jurors, “It was my personal greed that led to this. But prosecutors said in their closing arguments that Trump “knew exactly what was going on” and that evidence such as the lease he signed for Weisselberg’s apartment made it clear that “Mr. Trump expressly approves of tax fraud.”

Trump Organization lawyer Michael van der Veen said Weisselberg concocted the scheme without the knowledge of Trump or the Trump family.

Weisselberg said the Trumps remained loyal to him even as the company sought to end some of its questionable pay practices after Trump’s election in 2016. He said Trump’s eldest sons, who were put in charge of running the company when Trump was president, gave him a raise by $200,000 after an internal audit found he had reduced his salary and bonuses by the cost of benefits.

Although he is now on leave, the company continues to pay Weisselberg $640,000 in salary and $500,000 in vacation pay. After his arrest in July 2021, she punished him only nominally, reassigning him to senior adviser and moving his office.

In August, he even celebrated his 75th birthday at Trump Tower with a cake and colleagues, just hours after the plea deal that began his transformation from loyal executive to prosecution witness.

Comprised of 10 prisons on a spit of the East River just off the main runway at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, Rikers Island has been plagued by violence, inmate deaths and staggering understaffing in recent years.

Although it’s only five miles from Trump Tower, it’s a real world away from the life of luxury Weisselberg planned to build — far from the gilded Fifth Avenue offices where he devised his land and the Hudson River-view condo he harvested. as a reward.

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