Trump corporation prepares for criminal trial in off-the-books payment scheme

More than three years after Manhattan prosecutors began investigating Donald Trump – After going to the Supreme Court twice Access to his tax records – The only criminal trial that arose from their efforts is about to begin.

No, the former president will not stand trial. his company.

The Trump Organization, the holding company for Trump buildings, golf courses and other assets, Accused of helping some top executives avoid income taxes On compensation they received in addition to their salaries, such as rent-free apartments and luxury cars.

Trump has signed some checks at the center of the case, but he is not charged with anything and is not expected to testify or attend the trial, which begins on Monday by jury selection.

If convicted, the Trump Organization could be fined more than $1 million – But this is not the only possible repercussions.

Enthusiastic Trump supporters are unlikely to abandon him, regardless of the outcome, but a guilty verdict could hamper his company’s ability to obtain loans and make deals. New York City, for example, could use the legal cloud as a new justification for seeking to fire the company City owned golf course.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, said his office’s investigation into Trump is “active and ongoing,” and that no final decision has been made on whether he will face future criminal charges.

Republican Trump criticized the investigation, calling it a “political witch hunt.”

The Trump Organization said it had done nothing wrong and was looking forward to “spending our day in court.”

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan expects the criminal tax fraud trial, burdened with financial records and expert testimony, to take at least four weeks once the jury is formed. Given Trump’s fame as a polarizing businessman and politician, it may take some time to find jurors who feel they can judge the case impartially.

The star witness to the prosecution is expected to be Allen Weisselberg, one of Trump’s most trusted CEOs.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August For more than $1.7 million in non-taxable perks from the company, including tuition for his grandchildren, an apartment in Manhattan, and Mercedes cars for him and his wife.

His testimony comes as part of a plea agreement that requires him to work for up to five months at the Rikers Island prison complex in New York City, although he could be released after a little more than three with good conduct. The former Trump Organization chief financial officer must pay nearly $2 million in taxes, fines and interest and complete five years of probation.

Weisselberg, 75, has intimate knowledge of the Trump Organization’s financial dealings for nearly five decades at the company, but it is not expected to implicate Trump or any member of the Trump family in his testimony.

In pleading guilty, Weisselberg blamed the scheme on himself and other top executives of the Trump Organization, including Vice President and Comptroller, Jeffrey McConaughey.

McConaughey was given limited immunity to testify last year before a grand jury and can also appear on the witness stand at the trial. Corporate Security Director Matthew Calamari Jr., son of Operations Director Matthew Calamari Sr., has also been granted immunity to grand jury testimony.

When The Trump Organization and Weisselberg were indicted in 2021Prosecutors described the tax scheme as “comprehensive and bold” and said it was “organised by top executives”.

Besides Weisselberg, two other Trump Organization executives, whose names have not been identified, received substantial compensation under the table, including housing and car rental payments, according to the indictment.

“The purpose of the scheme was to compensate Weiselberg and other Trump Organization executives in an ‘unofficial’ manner,” the indictment reads.

The Trump Organization is the entity through which the former president manages his many projects, including his real estate investments, his many marketing deals, and his television following.

Trump’s two sons, Donald Jr and Eric, have been in charge of day-to-day operations since he became president. Since the criminal trial includes charges against the company entity, not any individuals, Trump will not be held personally liable if the jury issues a guilty verdict.

The criminal case is one of two legal cases making their way through New York courts and threatening to undermine the gold-plated facade of the Trump empire.

Last month , New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil suit Trump and the Trump Organization have been accused of misleading banks and others for years about the value of their assets. The civil lawsuit seeks $250 million and a permanent ban on Trump doing business in the state.

A court hearing on this matter is scheduled for October 31 like James Seeks an independent observer to oversee the activities of the Trump Organization After it alleged that the company was taking steps to evade potential sanctions, such as merging a new entity called Trump Organization II.

These aren’t the only legal challenges Trump faces as he weighs a potential return campaign for president.

Last week, Trump testified after the oath in A The lawsuit was filed by magazine columnist E. Jane Carrollwho says he raped her in the mid-1990s in the locker room of a department store.

Meanwhile, the FBI continues to investigate Trump’s storage of files Sensitive government documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

A special grand jury in Georgia He is investigating whether Trump and others have tried to influence state election officials.

On Friday, the House Committee of Inquiry into the January 6 rebellion Issue a subpoena to Trump.

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