Allen Weisselberg, who first met Donald Trump in the 1970s when he began working for Trump’s father, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges in New York that accused him of running a years-long scheme to avoiding taxes while he was the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer.
Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 charges — including conspiracy, criminal tax fraud, grand theft and falsifying business records — and acknowledged that he avoided taxes on nearly $2 million in income, including fringe benefits such as rent, the luxury cars and private school tuition for their children. grandchildren
The plea involves former President Trump’s namesake family business, which was charged in the same indictment by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
“In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg has decided to enter a guilty plea today to end this case and the legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family for years,” he said. Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas 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.”
Weisselberg repeatedly answered “Yes, your honor” as Judge Juan Merchan asked a series of questions about the tax-evading scheme, admitting that he did not falsely declare compensation, including a luxury apartment on Riverside Drive in Manhattan, several Mercedes Benz cars, cash, private. school tuition for their grandchildren and additional households.
As part of his plea deal, Weisselberg, 75, agreed to serve five months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. He also agreed to testify against the Trump Organization when the company goes on trial in connection with the alleged compensation scheme starting in October.
If he doesn’t testify truthfully, the deal is off, exposing Weisselberg to an additional five to 15 years in prison.
Allen Howard Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, arrives for a hearing in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan District of New York City on August 18, 2022.
“The defendant must agree to testify truthfully at the trial of the Trump Organization,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said.
The plea agreement contains no requirement that Trump’s longtime chief financial officer cooperate in the criminal case against Trump himself, which centers on whether the former president knowingly misled tax authorities, lenders and brokers. insurance by providing inaccurate financial statements about the value of their real estate portfolio.
Weisselberg must also pay taxes and penalties totaling $1.94 million.
“Today Allen Weisselberg admitted in court that he used his position at the Trump Organization to defraud taxpayers and enrich himself,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “This plea agreement directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activities and requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the corporation. We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization.”
A case of tax fraud was not what prosecutors were looking for. When they first filed charges against Weisselberg last summer, prosecutors expected Weisselberg to turn on Trump, sources told ABC News.
Trump asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a deposition last week as part of a parallel civil investigation by the New York attorney general’s office.
“For years, Mr. Weisselberg broke the law to line his own pockets and finance a lavish lifestyle. Today this misconduct ends. Let this guilty plea send a loud and clear message: We will crack down on anyone who steals to the public for personal gain because no one is above the law,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement after Weisselberg’s guilty plea Thursday.
The criminal probe, which began under former Manhattan DA Cy Vance, appeared to stall earlier this year when the two top prosecutors leading it resigned in frustration that Bragg did not immediately seek an indictment against Trump. sources told ABC News.
Bragg’s office has said the investigation remains ongoing.