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Friday, December 02, 2022

Trump aide pleaded guilty to tax offenses

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – A top executive of former President Donald Trump’s family business pleaded guilty Thursday to tax evasion as part of a plea deal with prosecutors that will make him a star witness in a trial against the company this fall. can make.

The Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Alan Weiselberg, has pleaded guilty to all 15 charges he was charged with violating US tax laws.

In a low, somewhat hoarse voice, Weiselberg admitted to receiving more than $1.7 million in unreported compensation—including paying for his grandson’s school tuition, rent on a Manhattan apartment, and a lease on a luxury car.

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan has agreed to sentence Weiselberg to five months in prison at New York City’s Rikers Island prison complex, although he will be eligible for a release of good behavior very soon. The judge said Weiselberg would have to pay about $2 million in taxes, fines and interest.

When the Trump Organization goes to trial in October on related charges, the plea deal requires Weiselberg to testify under opposition as a prosecution witness. The company is accused of helping Wesselberg and other officials evade income tax by failing to accurately report their total compensation to the government. Trump himself is not accused in this case.

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Wesselberg did not comment as he left the court and did not respond when asked by a reporter if he had a message for Trump.

Weiselberg’s attorney, Nicolas Gravante Jr., said his client pleaded guilty “to ending the case and causing him and his family to end up with years of legal and personal nightmares.”

“We’re glad we put it behind us,” the lawyer said.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that Weiselberg’s guilty plea “directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activities and requires Weiselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the corporation.”

“We look forward to proving our case against the Trump Organization in court,” he said.

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Weiselberg, 75, is the only person so far to face charges in a long-running investigation by a Manhattan prosecutor into the company’s business practices. Weiselberg, considered one of Trump’s most loyal aides, was arrested in July 2021.

His lawyers have argued that the Democratic-led district attorney’s office is punishing him because he failed to provide information that could harm Trump.

The district attorney is also investigating whether Trump or his company lied about the real value of their assets to banks or the government in order to obtain loans and reduce their taxes.

Last year, then-District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who launched the investigation, directed his aides to present evidence to a grand jury and request an indictment against Trump, according to Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the investigation. was.

But when Vance stepped down, his successor, Bragg, allowed the grand jury to dissolve without charge. Both prosecutors are Democrats. Bragg has said the investigation is ongoing.

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Michael Sisak is here: twitter.com/mikesisak

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