Trump Organization: Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty to tax crimes

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The former chief financial officer at Donald Trump’s company has pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion charges at a court in New York.

Allen Weisselberg, who was one of the longest serving executives at The Trump Organization, had been charged with concealing more than $1.7m (£1.4m) in alleged off-the-books income.

He is expected to be sentenced to five months at the notorious Rikers Island jail and must pay back the owed money.

Mr Trump has not been charged.

The former president – who is not accused of wrongdoing – has described the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation as a witch hunt.

The case relates to a 15-year scheme that prosecutors say helped executives at The Trump Organization avoid paying taxes on corporate benefits such as rent, luxury car payments and private school fees.

The inquiry focused on whether Weisselberg and other executives received these benefits without reporting them properly on their tax returns.

And at the plea hearing on Thursday, the 75-year-old admitted receiving private school tuition for his grandchildren, BMW cars and a home in Manhattan.

“[He] decided to enter a plea of guilty today to put an end to this case and the years-long legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family,” his lawyer said in a statement.

Weisselberg, who is seen as one of Mr Trump’s most loyal business associates, worked for the former president for almost 50 years. He left his job as chief financial officer after he was arrested in July 2021 as part of this case.

The Trump Organization is also a defendant in the case and its lawyers have entered a not guilty plea.

Weisselberg could now be called on to testify against the company at its criminal trial later this year, after agreeing to a plea deal that was first reported by The New York Times.

But he has not agreed to co-operate with prosecutors in their wider investigation into Donald Trump and his business practices, reports say.

That means any testimony he provides at the trial – which is scheduled for late October – will only relate to this case and will not implicate the former president directly.

Weisselberg had faced intense pressure from prosecutors to co-operate against Mr Trump, The New York Times reported, but resisted and accepted jail time.

He will be sentenced at the end of The Trump Organization trial, Judge Juan Merchan said on Thursday.

But he could be freed from his five-month sentence after about 100 days if time is credited for good behaviour, a number of sources familiar with the deal told US media.

That is far shorter than the many years in state prison he could have faced if – rather than plead guilty – he were convicted at trial.

READ ALSO:  Donald Trump says FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Florida home

Weisselberg’s guilty plea comes as Mr Trump is investigated on several fronts.

Just last week, he declined to answer questions as part of a separate New York state investigation into his family’s business practices. That inquiry is a civil one, meaning it will not result in criminal charges.

Mr Trump, who denies wrongdoing, had sued in an effort to block the interview at the attorney general’s office. But the questioning lasted around four hours and Mr Trump – who invoked his Fifth Amendment rights – said “same answer” throughout.

There are also separate investigations into the former president’s handling of classified documents – which led the FBI to search his Florida home – and others related to his efforts to undermine the result of the 2020 election.

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