NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s longtime finance chief is expected to plead guilty as early as Thursday in a tax evasion case stemming from a long-running investigation into the former president’s company. Born is the only criminal prosecution, known to three people. Case told The Associated Press.
Trump Organization CFO Alan Wesselberg was to be indicted in October on allegations that he took more than $1.7 million in compensation from the company, including rent, car payments and school tuition.
Prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and Wesselberg’s attorneys met Monday with Judge Juan Manuel Merchin, who is overseeing the case, according to court records. The judge then scheduled a hearing on the matter for Thursday morning at 9 a.m. but did not say why.
The people who spoke to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case. He said the purpose of Thursday’s hearing was for Wesselberg to enter a guilty plea, but cautioned that plea matters sometimes fall apart before the court makes a final decision.
Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr. told The New York Times on Monday that Weisselberg is engaged in plea negotiations to resolve the case, but did not elaborate on the terms of a potential plea deal. Reached by the AP, Gravant declined to comment.
The Times, citing two people with knowledge of the matter, said Wesselberg was expected to receive a five-month prison sentence, which would make him eligible for release after about 100 days. Under the deal, Weisenberg will not be required to testify or cooperate in any way with the ongoing criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices.
Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, is also charged in the case but did not appear to be involved in the plea deal negotiations. Wesselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined to comment. A message was left with a lawyer for the Trump Organization seeking comment.
News of Wesselberg’s plea negotiations came after the judge denied requests from his lawyers and the Trump Organization to dismiss the case. The judge dropped one count of criminal tax fraud against the company, citing the statute of limitations, but more than a dozen other counts remain.
In an effort to have the case dismissed, Wesselberg’s lawyers argued that prosecutors in the Democrat-led district attorney’s office were punishing him because he would not turn over damaging information against the former president.
The judge rejected that argument, saying the evidence presented to the grand jury was legally sufficient to support the charges.
Wesselberg, who turns 75 on Monday, is the only Trump executive to be charged in the years-long criminal investigation by former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who sought to preserve Trump’s tax records. Went to court. Vance’s successor, Alvin Bragg, is now overseeing the investigation. Several other Trump executives have been granted immunity to testify before a grand jury in the case.
Prosecutors allege that Wesselberg and the Trump Organization schemed to pay off-the-books compensation to senior executives, including Wesselberg, for 15 years. Wesselberg alone was accused of defrauding the federal government, state and city of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and undeserved tax refunds.
The most serious charge against Weisselberg, grand theft, carries a possible sentence of five to 15 years in prison. Charges of tax fraud against the company are punishable by a fine of twice the amount of unpaid tax, or $250,000, whichever is greater.
Trump has not been charged in the criminal investigation, but prosecutors have noted that he signed some of the checks at the center of the case. Trump, who has called the New York investigation a “political witch hunt,” has said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate business and in no way a crime.
Last week, Trump sat down to testify in a parallel civil investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James into allegations that Trump’s company misled creditors and tax authorities about asset values. Trump has invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.
In the months following Wesselberg’s arrest, the criminal investigation was moving toward a possible criminal indictment against Trump himself, but the investigation slowed, a grand jury was impaneled and a top judge was dismissed after Bragg took office in January. The prosecutor is gone – even though he insists that’s the case. Continued
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