The Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, removed from his role after being the former president’s trusted lieutenant for nearly half a century, returned to court on Monday more than two months after his indictment for an alleged 15-year tax fraud scheme.
The early morning hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court marked the first proceedings since Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s (D) indictment against him and Donald Trump’s namesake real estate empire in July.
“Beginning from at least 2005 to on or about June 30, 2021, [Weisselberg, the Trump Corporation, Trump Payroll Corp. and ] and others devised and operated a scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities,” prosecutors wrote in a passage of the indictment summarizing the 15-year tax scheme begins. “One of the largest individual beneficiaries of the defendants’ scheme was Allen Weisselberg. During the operation of the scheme, the defendants arranged for Weisselberg to receive in direct employee compensation from the Trump Organization in the approximate amount of $1.76 million.”
Prosecutors claim that Weisselberg and the Trump Corporation engaged in an “off-the-books” payment scheme. Trump and his entities have alleged the prosecution to be politically motivated. Prosecutors note the offenses alleged in the indictment are routinely charged.
The ex-CFO ducked about $359,058 in tuition expenses for multiple family members, $196,245 for leases on his Mercedes Benz automobiles, $29,400 in unreported cash, and an unspecified amount in ad hoc personal expenses like new beds, flat-screen televisions, the installation of carpeting, and furniture for his home in Florida, according to his indictment.
As a man whose devotion to Trump is said to be legendary, Weisselberg’s case has inherent dramatic appeal that has eclipsed the charges against his co-defendants.
A lengthy profile of District Attorney Vance published by the New Yorker in March depicted Weisselberg as a man who allowed the former president to insult and offend his own family.
According to the article, Trump reportedly pulled up in his limousine to a Jewish mourning ritual known as a shiva inside Weisselberg’s home at Long Island. Jennifer Weisselberg, then affianced to son Barry Weisselberg, told the magazine that Trump started showing pictures of naked women on a yacht to the attendees and hitting on her.
Allen Weisselberg reportedly humored Trump in response without defending his then-soon-to-be daughter in law. The couple subsequently married and divorced.
Some legal experts, however, find the prosecution of the corporate defendants equally if not more significant.
In late July, Western New England University School of Law Professor Jennifer Taub told Law&Crime that the corporate entities could face dissolution, if convicted.
Taub cited the dissolution of the Trump Foundation charity by the New York attorney general’s office as precedent.
“The same laws would permit will permit the current Attorney General Letitia James to go into court and get Trump’s corporations that are organized under New York law dissolved,” the professor argued, reprising an argument she also made in Washington Monthly. “At this point, because there’s a criminal case, this step would be to wait to the criminal case is resolved.”
(Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images.)
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