Allen Weisselberg: Trump Org CFO lawyer says he expects more indictments
An attorney for the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg said he believed more indictments were pending.
Lawyer Bryan Scarlatos, who represents former President Donald Trump’s corporate finance boss, told a judge on Monday that he had “good reason to believe” that more charges were about to be launched. as part of the ongoing investigation into Mr. Trump’s affairs.
Mr Scarlatos made the admission during Mr Weisselberg’s first court appearance since he was arraigned on July 1 for tax evasion, but the lawyer did not disclose what prompted him to s ‘wait for new charges.
Two leaders of the Trump Organization have testified before a grand jury in recent weeks. The jury meets behind closed doors to hear testimony and review the evidence.
“Mr. Weisselberg is separated from the Trump Organization. He is the only individual here whose freedom is at stake, ”said Mr. Scarlatos. “What worries me is that it will become collateral damage in a larger fight between the Trump Organization and the [District Attorney’s] Office.”
Mr Scarlatos raised the possibility of further legal action when he argued the defense team should have more time to review up to six million pages of documents he said prosecutors were handing over as evidence. He said the review process was “a Herculean task” and that new indictments would produce a “moving target”.
Prosecutors said Mr. Weisselberg was “no stranger” to many documents because they include business records he is likely to have produced or reviewed in his job as chief financial officer for the Trump organization.
Judge Juan Manuel Merchan has given the prosecution and defense until next spring to file motions in the case and said he would rule on the motions on July 12, 2022, when Mr. Weisselberg must appear in court.
Judge Merchan said he would also announce a trial date at that time and that it would likely be set for late August or early September 2022.
“The reason I’m mentioning it now is that it’s on everyone’s radar,” he said. “I don’t have a specific date yet.
Mr Weisselberg has pleaded not guilty to charges that he received $ 1.7 million in tax-free benefits, such as apartment rent, tuition and payment for a car.
Mr. Trump’s company is also indicted alongside Mr. Weisselberg. Prosecutors allege they have carried out a “sweeping and bold” tax evasion scheme over the past 15 years.
Mr Weisselberg chose not to speak to reporters when he entered and left the court on Monday and spent the hearing sitting in silence next to his lawyer.
In accordance with pandemic restrictions, everyone in the courtroom wore masks and plastic barriers separated the various legal teams.
Mr Trump has not been charged with a felony, but has argued that the first case arising from New York State officials’ two-year investigation into his business is a “witch hunt Politics “. Instead, the former president claimed that the way the Trump organization behaved was standard business practice.
The indictment says that from 2005 to this year, the Trump Organization and Mr. Weisselberg evaded tax obligations by offering the company’s senior executives unofficial luxury benefits as well as other measures.
Mr. Weisselberg was charged with avoiding $ 900,000 in taxes and tax refunds to which he was not entitled. Robbery is the heaviest charge against Mr Weisselberg and could lead to five to 15 years in prison.
The business could face fines of double the amount of unpaid taxes or $ 250,000, whichever is greater.
Mr. Weisselberg, 74, has worked for the Trump family since 1973 and started working for Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump. After nearly 50 years with the Trumps, Mr Weisselberg is very likely to know where the financial bodies would be buried and the case against him could help prosecutors get him to talk and reveal what he knows. So far, there is no indication that the 74-year-old has been conciliatory with prosecutors.
On the government side, the case is led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr and New York Attorney General Letitia James. They are both Democrats.
The former president used the Trump Organization to manage real estate investments, such as office towers, hotels and golf courses, as well as his marketing and television deals.
When he was elected president in 2016, Mr. Trump put his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. in charge of the organization.
The indictment says Mr. Weisselberg used company funds to pay for his apartment, as well as for parking and utilities. Tuition at private schools for Mr. Weisselberg’s grandchildren was also paid for by the company, using checks bearing Mr. Trump’s signature, prosecutors said. The Mercedes cars the CFO and his wife drove were also paid for by the Trump Organization.
Prosecutors said such benefits can be seen on internal documents as part of Mr Weisselberg’s compensation, but were not included in his W-2 forms and were not reported elsewhere. The company did not pay taxes on the value of these benefits, prosecutors said.
The prosecution also said the company issued checks, at Mr Weisselberg’s request, to pay for home renovations for the CFO and one of his sons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report