Vicky Arias, FISM News
On Tuesday, a New York jury found two companies within the Trump Organization guilty of 17 counts of tax scheme crimes. Former President Donald Trump wasn’t charged in the case.
The convictions don’t carry with them the ability to dissolve the corporation but they may make it more difficult for the company to do business and acquire loans. Sentencing for the organization is scheduled for the middle of January, with the maximum penalty being a $1.6 million fine.
The Trump Corporation, the Trump Payroll Corporation, and Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Corporation, were indicted in 2021 on several counts of tax crimes, including criminal tax fraud, a scheme to defraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records.
Weisselberg made a plea deal with the prosecution, agreeing to testify against the Trump Corp., serve five months in jail, repay taxes and penalties in the amount of $1,994,321 and receive five years probation.
Manhattan District Attorney, Democrat Alvin Bragg, expressed his satisfaction with the jury’s decision to convict.
“The former president’s companies now stand convicted of crimes. That is consequential. It underscores that in Manhattan we have one standard of justice for all,” Bragg told reporters.
D.A. Bragg: “The former president’s companies now stand convicted of crimes. That is consequential. It underscores that in Manhattan we have one standard of justice for all.” pic.twitter.com/vThB2auLnO
— Alvin Bragg (@ManhattanDA) December 6, 2022
Prosecutors said the Trump companies were involved in doling out perks and fringe benefits to top executives in an effort to evade paying higher taxes.
The perks were reportedly given in lieu of raising executives’ wages, which reduced the payroll tax the Trump company would’ve otherwise owed. The benefits included luxury apartment and car rentals, furniture, parking garage fees, TVs, and private school tuition for Weisselberg’s grandchildren.
According to Reuters, “the personal expenses were not added to employees’ taxable income. But some expenses were subtracted from salaries and bonuses, leaving the executives with less taxable income and the company with less payroll taxes.”
The defense in the case argued that Weisselberg acted alone in an effort to pad his luxurious lifestyle with extra perks.
Weisselberg testified that Trump himself had no involvement in the crimes and that he was embarrassed to have schemed a company for which he had been employed for nearly 50 years.
“It was my own personal greed that led to this,” Weisselberg said on the stand.
One of the Trump team’s attorneys, Susan Necheles, explained that Weisselberg acted for his own self-interests and not those of the organization.
Necheles pointed to “Weisselberg’s testimony that he acted out of greed and was embarrassed about betraying the trust of the Trump family, for whom [he] had worked for nearly five decades.”
According to the Associated Press, Donald Trump condemned the charges and verdict as politically motivated, saying they were a “Democrat-led ‘Manhattan witch hunt’” and suggested that the crimes in the case didn’t amount to any financial gain for his companies.
The Trump Organization plans to appeal the jury’s decision.
“Why would a corporation whose owner knew nothing about Weisselberg’s personal tax returns be criminally prosecuted for Allen Weisselberg’s personal conduct, for which they had no visibility or oversight?” Necheles stated, according to CNN. “This case was unprecedented and legally incorrect. We will appeal this verdict.”