Allen Weisselberg, former Trump Org. CFO, sentenced to 5 months in jail
New York CNN –
Allen Weisselberg, President Donald Trump’s longtime chief financial officer, was sentenced by a New York judge to five months in prison for his role in a decade-long tax fraud scheme after testifying as a state witness against the Trump Organization.
After the court hearing, Weisselberg, 75, is expected to report to Rikers Island, New York’s notorious prison, to begin serving his sentence immediately.
He pleaded guilty last August to 15 felonies in a deal with prosecutors. As part of the deal, he was required to testify truthfully in the Trump Organization’s trial, pay $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties and waive any appeal rights.
Weisselberg admitted he should have paid taxes on the off-the-books compensation, which totaled roughly $200,000 a year, which included a luxury Manhattan apartment overlooking the Hudson River, two Mercedes Benz rental cars, parking, utilities, furniture and tuition of private school for him. nephews and nieces.
Judge Juan Merchan said Tuesday that if he hadn’t already promised Weisselberg a five-month sentence, he would have handed down a “far greater” sentence than five months after hearing the evidence at trial.
Without a plea deal, Weisselberg faced a sentence of five to 15 years in prison. With credit given for good behavior, a third of Weisselberg’s sentence could be thrown out, meaning he could end up serving about 100 days behind bars.
Merchan found Weisselberg’s fabrication of a fraudulent $6,000 payroll deduction to his wife so she could qualify for Social Security benefits as the most “offensive” of the crimes the judge said were directed by the Organization Trump. executive greed.
Merchan said he felt he had to share that view in response to Weisselberg’s attorney, who asked for an even lesser sentence for his client given his age and other factors.
Longtime Trump Organization. executive fulfilled the terms of his plea agreement, a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prosecutor told the court before Merchan handed down the sentence. Prosecutors said Weisselberg did indeed testify against two Trump companies convicted in connection with the tax fraud scheme in December, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said.
Weisselberg also paid the remaining balance of just over $1 million in back taxes and penalties last week owed to tax authorities, Hoffinger confirmed. He paid more than $2 million in total.
Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante, said Tuesday “it’s obviously a difficult day for him, but it’s a day he’s been preparing for for many months, since he entered his plea last August.”
“Mr. Weisselberg came to court today ready to begin his sentence and he is grateful that it has now begun,” said Gravante. “He deeply regrets the error of judgment that resulted in his conviction, and is most sorry for the pain he has caused his loving wife, sons and wonderful grandchildren.”
New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the plea and sentence show that, “in Manhattan, you have to play by the rules, no matter who you are or who you work for.”
“Now, he and two Trump companies have been convicted of felonies and Weisselberg will serve a prison sentence for his crimes,” Bragg added.
The sentence caps a lengthy investigation — but it comes as the Manhattan district attorney’s office continues to investigate the Trump Organization. Prosecutors are conducting a wide-ranging investigation involving the accuracy of the companies’ financial statements, and in recent months its focus has returned to the company’s involvement in cash payments made to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels from coming forward. publicly with a connection to Trump shortly before the 2016 election, people familiar with the matter said. Trump has denied this affair.
Weisselberg’s legal troubles are not over. He is also a defendant in a $250 million civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has alleged that Trump, his three oldest children, Weisselberg and others defrauded lenders, insurers and tax authorities inflating the value of the Trump Organization’s numerous properties for more than a decade. Trump has denied wrongdoing and said the lawsuit is politically motivated.
In his testimony at the Trump Organization’s tax fraud trial late last year, Weisselberg said he conspired with others at the company and described conversations he had with Trump, sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., but told the jury when questioned by Trump’s lawyers that he did not plan or conspire with anyone in the Trump family.
Last month, after several hours of deliberations, two entities of the Trump Organization were convicted on multiple counts of tax fraud and falsifying business records. Lawyers for the entities said they will appeal.
A source close to the situation said that as of Tuesday, Weisselberg is no longer an employee of the Trump Organization, describing it as an amicable split with a severance.
This story has been updated with additional details.