Closing arguments begin in Trump Organization tax fraud trial

Closing arguments begin Thursday in the tax fraud trial of the Trump Organization, which is accused of a sweeping 15-year scheme to compensate top executives at former President Donald Trump’s company off the books.

Defense attorneys and New York prosecutors will recap the testimony of several witnesses in the criminal trial, which began in late October, including the prosecution’s star witness, the company’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. After the lawyers resolve the arguments, the 12-person jury will begin deliberations on Monday.

Weisselberg, who has pleaded guilty to tax evasion, agreed to testify against his former employer in exchange for a five-month jail sentence. Prosecutors say he received $1.76 million in «indirect employee compensation» through the scheme, which includes a free apartment, expensive cars, private school tuition for his grandchildren and new furniture. Other executives earned similar benefits and received bonuses as independent contractors, saving company payroll taxes.

The former CFO testified that the Trumps were unaware of his plans, but that Trump’s eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, did not discipline him after finding out.

Weisselberg said he had «betrayed» the Trump family’s trust in him. Although he said that Trump and his children knew of the benefits he received because they signed the checks, they were not aware of any fraud.

Former CFO Allen Weisselberg leaves the courtroom during a trial in New York Supreme Court on November 17.File Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

While the company profited from his scams by not having to pay payroll or Medicare taxes, Weisselberg said it was his «personal greed that led him to this.»

Although he was removed as CFO after being indicted, Weisselberg testified that his duties have remained largely the same and he continues to earn the same amount of money: about $1 million a year. The company also paid for the lawyers who represented him in the case, he said.

Lawyers for the company, which has pleaded not guilty, argued that Weisselberg acted alone. Trump, who announced his 2024 presidential run last month, has not been charged in the case.

The Trump Organization could incur fines of up to $1.6 million if found guilty on all counts. A conviction could also hamper the company’s ability to obtain financing in the future, experts said.

The former president has presented the charges as a political coup.

“There has never been a ‘Front Benefits’ case like this before,” Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform last month. apartment, or payments (we don’t even take them as a tax deduction!) for the education of his grandchildren? For this, they handcuff him and put him in jail?

The company has also been embroiled in other legal troubles. The New York attorney general’s office also sued the company, Trump and his eldest children last month, alleging they had overstated the company’s financial assets by billions of dollars. The civil suit, which Trump also dismissed as a politically motivated «witch hunt,» seeks to impose around $250 million in fines and permanently bar Trump and his three oldest children from serving as officers of any New York-based company.

dareh gregorian Y Adam Reiss contributed.