Allen Weisselberg, Trump Organization indicted in New York tax investigation
Donald Trump’s company and his former CFO have been indicted on charges stemming from a New York investigation into the former president’s businesses, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
The charges against the Trump Organization and the company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, remained sealed Wednesday night, but were expected to involve alleged tax violations related to the benefits the company granted to senior executives, possibly including the use of of apartments, cars and school fees. people familiar with the case said.
The individuals were not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation and did so on condition of anonymity. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that charges were expected Thursday.
The company and Weisselberg were expected to make their first court appearance on Thursday.
The charges against Weisselberg and the Trump Organization would be the first criminal cases to emerge from the two-year investigation led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., a Democrat who is leaving office at the end of the year.
Prosecutors have been scrutinizing Trump’s tax records, subpoenaing documents and interviewing witnesses, including Trump members and company executives.
Recently, a grand jury was convened to weigh the evidence and New York Attorney General Letitia James said she was assigning two of her attorneys to work with Vance on the criminal investigation while she continues a civil investigation of Trump.
Messages seeking comment were left with a spokesperson and lawyers for the Trump Organization. Weisselberg’s attorney, Mary Mulligan, declined to comment. The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment.
Trump’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Jason Miller, a longtime former senior adviser to the Republican, called the looming charges “politically dire for Democrats.”
“They told their madmen and supplicants in the mainstream media that it was about President Trump. Instead, his Witch Hunt is going after an innocent 80-year-old man for maybe taking free parking! “Miller tweeted, apparently referring to Weisselberg, who is 73 years old.
Trump, who has criticized President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, was in Texas visiting the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday. He did not respond to shouted questions about the charges while participating in a briefing with state officials.
Trump had criticized the investigation in a statement Monday, ridiculing Vance’s office as “rude, obnoxious and totally biased” in its treatment of lawyers, representatives and long-term employees of the Trump company.
Trump, in the statement, said that the company’s actions were “things that are standard practice throughout the US business community and in no way a crime” and that the Vance investigation was an investigation “seeking of a crime “.
Lawyers for the Trump Organization virtually met with Manhattan prosecutors last week in a final attempt to dissuade them from indicting the company. Prosecutors gave lawyers a deadline Monday to argue that criminal charges should not be filed.
Ron Fischetti, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told the AP this week that there was no indication that Trump himself was included in the first batch of charges.
“This week there are no charges against the former president,” Fischetti said. “I can’t say I’m completely out of the woods yet.”
Weisselberg, a loyal Trump lieutenant and his father, Fred, a real estate developer, came under scrutiny, in part, because of questions about his son’s use of a Trump apartment at little or no cost.
Barry Weisselberg ran a Trump-operated ice rink in Central Park.
Barry’s ex-wife, Jen Weisselberg, has been cooperating with the investigation and turned over stacks of tax records and other documents to investigators.
“We have been working with prosecutors for many months as part of this tax and financial investigation and have provided a large volume of evidence that allowed them to press these charges,” Jen Weisselberg’s attorney Duncan Levin said Wednesday. “We are pleased to learn that the district attorney’s office is moving forward with a criminal case.”
Allen Weisselberg has worked for the Trump Organization since 1973. The case against him could give prosecutors the means to pressure the executive to cooperate and tell them what he knows about Trump’s dealings.
Prosecutors summoned another former Trump finance executive, Senior Vice President and Controller Jeffrey McConney, to testify in front of the grand jury in the spring. Under New York law, grand jury witnesses receive immunity and cannot be charged for the conduct they testify about.
Prosecutors investigating tax-free benefits for Trump executives have also been looking at Matthew Calamari, a former Trump bodyguard turned chief operating officer, and his son, the company’s corporate chief security officer. However, an attorney for the Calamaris said Wednesday that he did not expect them to be charged.
“Although the district attorney’s investigation is obviously ongoing, I do not expect charges to be brought against any of my clients at this time,” said attorney Nicholas Gravante.
• Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Weslaco, Texas, and Bernard Condon in New York contributed to this report.
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The media has expressed concern that Attorney General Merritt Garland may allow the crimes committed by Trump and Barr to go unchallenged. Will he make the same mistake as many Democrats? To be weak in seeking justice out of concern for optics? Will he fail, as did Robert Mueller, who found 6 counts of obstruction of justice and did not recommend charges? While Republicans lie, practice hypocrisy, and break the law, Democrats play weak politics.