Thursday, February 2, 2023

Trump Organization found guilty of tax fraud

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – Donald Trump’s company was found guilty Tuesday of helping its executives avoid taxes on extravagant gains such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars, in a significant rebuke of corporate financial practices, at a time when he wanted to reach the White House again.

A jury found the two corporate entities of the Trump Organization guilty on all 17 counts, including fraud and falsifying business documents. Trump was not on trial. The decision in New York state court came after nearly 10 hours of deliberations over two days.

New York officials say they will continue to investigate Trump and his business. The investigation, which began three years ago into possible secret-purchase payments in Trump’s name, has turned into an analysis of the company’s asset valuation and payment practices.

The company could be fined up to $1.6 million. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 13. The defense has already said it will appeal against the verdict.

“Companies of a former president have been found guilty of crimes. It’s relevant,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said after leaving court. “It underscores that we have a standard of fairness for everyone in Manhattan.”

Trump, a Republican who announced his 2024 candidacy last month, fumed over the decision, calling it a “Manhattan witch hunt” led by Democrats.

“This case is unprecedented and does not involve any monetary benefit to either of these corporations,” Trump said in a statement. “New York City is a tough place to be a ‘Trump’.”

The decision adds to mounting legal troubles for Trump, who is facing a criminal investigation in Washington over efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election as well as withholding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate .

A newly appointed Justice Department special prosecutor is leading those investigations. The Atlanta district attorney’s office also launched an investigation into efforts by Trump and those close to him to reverse his defeat in the state of Georgia.

The Trump Organization — and Trump’s handling of it — was the central thread of the reality show “The Apprentice,” which established him as a global celebrity. The fame served him well in fueling his political rise, allowing him to sell himself to voters as a successful businessman who could apply the lessons of that field to Washington.

The case against the company relied primarily on the testimony of Alan Weiselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, who previously pleaded guilty to charges that he manipulated the company’s accounting to reduce his taxes on $1.7 million in profits. did. The prosecution promised Weiselberg a five-month prison sentence in exchange for his testimony.

To win the guilty plea, prosecutors had to convince the jury that either Wesselberg or his subordinate, Senior Vice President Jeffrey McConkey, were “senior managers” acting on behalf of the company and that the scheme benefited from the scheme.

For their part, lawyers for the Trump Organization repeated the mantra of “Weiselberg did it for Weiselberg” during the month-long trial. He said the executive had betrayed the trust of the company.

Wesselberg also tried to take responsibility on the stand, saying no one in the Trump family knew what he was doing.

“It was my own personal greed that brought me to this,” he declared.

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Sisak is on Twitter at: twitter.com/mikesisak

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Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington and Jill Colvin and Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
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