Former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg on Thursday pleaded guilty to 15 felonies related to tax fraud in New York state court and is set to serve only five months in jail on Rikers Island if he testifies during the trial of the ex-president’s family business.
“Today Allen Weisselberg admitted in court that he used his position at the Trump Organization to bilk taxpayers and enrich himself,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a statement. “Instead of paying his fair share like everyone else, Weisselberg had the Trump Organization provide him with a rent-free apartment, expensive cars, private school tuition for his grandchildren, and new furniture—all without paying required taxes.”
“This plea agreement directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity and requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the corporation,” Bragg continued. “Furthermore, thanks to the incredibly hard work and dedication of the team prosecuting this case, Weisselberg will spend time behind bars. We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization.”
Weisselberg, who also faces five years’ probation, admitted to charges including grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records from 2005 through June 2021. He will be required to pay nearly $2 million in taxes, penalties, and interest to New York City and state tax authorities before his sentencing. Bragg’s office said the state will recommend prison time if the 75-year-old fails to abide by the conditions of his plea deal.
“In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg decided to enter a plea of guilty today to put an end to this case and the yearslong legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family,” said his lawyer, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr. “Rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days. We are glad to have this behind him.”
The Associated Press reported that “Weisselberg said nothing as he left court, offering no reply when a journalist asked him whether he had any message for” former President Donald Trump—who is a target of various other investigations but has not been charged in this case.
“The plea deal does not require Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate with the district attorney’s broader criminal investigation of Mr. Trump, and his admissions will not implicate the former president,” The New York Times explained. “His willingness to accept jail time rather than turn on Mr. Trump underscores the extent of his loyalty to a family he has served for nearly a half-century, and it helped stymie the larger effort to indict Mr. Trump.”
The newspaper added:
In refusing to cooperate against Mr. Trump, Mr. Weisselberg fended off intense pressure from prosecutors. They saw Mr. Weisselberg as the ideal cooperator in their wider investigation focused on the former president and his business practices: He entered the Trump orbit in the early 1970s as a junior bookkeeper for Mr. Trump’s father and climbed the ranks at the Trump Organization in the decades that followed, developing an encyclopedic knowledge of its finances.
Despite not securing Mr. Weisselberg’s cooperation, the Manhattan district attorney… may still gain a victory from the deal. Prosecutors now can point to Mr. Weisselberg’s admissions that he conspired with the Trump Organization—damning evidence against the company—when they face off at trial. And Mr. Weisselberg, an accountant who served a vital role as the company’s financial gatekeeper, will be branded as a felon.
Jury selection for the Trump Organization trial is scheduled to start October 24, noted Bragg’s statement, which also thanked the city and state finance departments as well as New York Attorney General Letitia James and the investigators from her office.
This story has been edited for length. Read the full story at Common Dreams.