Sources: Longtime Trump Organization executive is negotiating guilty plea to fraud
NEW YORK — Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, is in talks to plead guilty in a wide-ranging fraud case, two people familiar with the case tell NPR.
The move comes just days after New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan denied a motion to dismiss the case, and set a trial date for late October. Court records show a hearing for Weisselberg was just added to the court calendar for Thursday.
While discussions are still ongoing, one of the sources said, the deal could mean a relatively short jail sentence for Weisselberg in exchange for pleading guilty, without an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors.
In July 2021, Weisselberg, along with two Trump corporate entities, were charged with multiple felonies for an alleged 16-year scheme to avoid paying taxes by compensating Weisselberg with untaxed benefits like a luxury apartment, a Mercedes-Benz, and private school tuition for his grandchildren. The scheme, prosecutor Carey Dunne said at the time, "was orchestrated by the most senior executives, who were financially benefiting themselves and the company, by getting secret pay raises at the expense of state and federal taxpayers."
The case was widely seen as a prelude to a more serious case against Donald Trump, who was under criminal investigation for lying about his property values to defraud taxpayers and investors. But earlier this year, after the election of a new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, the grand jury investigation of Trump was suspended. Bragg said in April that the criminal investigation of Trump and the Trump organization "is continuing."
A separate civil investigation of Trump's company by New York State Attorney General Letitia James is still under way, and just last week her office took a deposition of Trump, in which he invoked the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times.
Even if Weisselberg's case is resolved Thursday, the district attorney's pending criminal case against the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp. will remain. The judge also denied motions to dismiss those cases. If convicted, the corporate entities could face fines or back taxes, but no person would have to serve jail time. [Copyright 2022 NPR]