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After a yearslong investigation, the Manhattan DA has filed tax-related criminal charges against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
“Beginning from at least 2005 to on or about June 30, 2021, the defendants and others devised and operated a scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities,” states the criminal complaint. “The purpose of the scheme was to compensate Weisselberg and other Trump Organization executives in a manner that was ‘off the books’: the beneficiaries of the scheme received substantial portions of their income through indirect and disguised means, with compensation that was unreported or misreported by the Trump Corporation or Trump Payroll Corp to the tax authorities.”
The move was widely expected, although it’s certainly a bold stroke against an entity tied to the former President of the United States. Although Donald Trump himself has thus far not been charged, the office of Cy Vance, Manhattan’s top law enforcement official, will attempt to prove that the real estate empire that sprung Trump to power has illegally avoided paying taxes on benefits doled out to executives.
The investigation dates to Trump’s time as leader of the nation, and he has repeatedly attacked it as a political witch hunt. The probe itself, before any indictment, already has made legal history as Vance’s hunt for Trump’s personal tax returns went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which concluded in a 7-2 decision in 2019 that the Supremacy Clause doesn’t preclude the issuance of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting President.
Today’s criminal filing hardly touches on the way that Trump has valued real estate assets in insurance papers and on tax returns — a subject of frequent discussion among those watching Trump’s legal affairs. In recent days, with a strong signal that the criminal charges would be coming, Trump’s supporters have claimed some vindication in regard to the narrow focus of the charges. It’s possible, though, to amend a criminal complaint.
Weisselberg, who has resisted prosecutors’ attempts to flip him, appeared in court this afternoon and pled not guilty to various counts of criminal tax fraud and grand larceny. Prosecutors say he concealed approximately $1.7 million in compensation from tax authorities, including for perks such as the rent on his apartment, tuition for his kids, the lease on his car and more.
Prosecutors also spell out in court papers on how the Trump Organization allegedly falsified its accounting, including making false entries in records and destroying them as well.
“This case is not about politics. This investigation — which is ongoing — is proper,” said Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Carey Dunne.
“Allen Weisselberg is a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather who has worked at the Trump Organization for 48 years,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement. “He is now being used by the Manhattan District Attorney as a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former President.”
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