Donald Trump knew his company was committing tax fraud, prosecutors say


NEW YORK — Donald Trump knew about 15 years of tax fraud by longtime executives at his namesake company, prosecutors argued Friday, said the illegal activity ended when the company cleaned up its business practices around the time Trump entered the White House.

At the conclusion of the Trump Organization’s criminal trial, prosecutors advanced the idea that Trump knew about the crimes committed by his top lieutenants. The statement was a way to bolster their theory that real estate, hotel and golf companies benefit from and receive criminal penalties for tax fraud.

“The entire narrative about Donald Trump being blissfully ignorant is untrue,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Stanglass said in his summary. He asked jurors, who may begin deliberations in the case on Monday, to dismiss the idea that the executives who committed the crime had simply become “rogues.”

At the same time, Stangglass also told the jury that it “doesn’t matter” whether they think Trump knew about the fraud because the former president is not considered an accomplice in the case.

Trump has not been accused of wrongdoing. Allen Weisselberg — his former chief financial officer and half-century Trump family employee — pleaded guilty this summer to fraud. Weisselberg and Trump Organization Comptroller Jeffrey McConney’s testimony on fraud — he has automatic immunity under state law when he appears before a grand juryIt is a key element of the inspection case.

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Prosecutors said the company profited from the fraud in a variety of ways, including cutting wage costs and saving on Medicare taxes.

To find the company guilty of wrongdoing and impose a fine of up to $1.6 million, the district attorney must prove that Weisselberg or McConney had “some intent” to help the company beyond reducing his own tax liability. The fraud involved untaxed luxury apartments, Mercedes-Benz and private school tuition for Weisselberg’s grandchildren.

In a Truth Social post earlier this week, Trump appeared to dismiss any suggestion he knew what Weisselberg and McConney were up to, writing “‘Trump’ doesn’t do any good ’, and “we know about it”.

Defense attorney Susan Necheles reminded jurors in Thursday’s summary that Weisselberg and McConney testified that Trump “didn’t know how things were reported on Allen Weisselberg’s tax returns” and argued that Trump didn’t know his high Managed tax crimes.

Prosecutors largely sidestepped the issue during the trial, presenting no evidence to directly refute Weisselberg and McConney’s arguments. But on Friday, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchant ruled that lawyers for the Trump Organization opened the door to discussions about whether Trump knew the number of jurors Weisselberg “betrayed” the Trump family.

“In fact, it was sanctioned, and the practice was known to Mr. Trump. Trump directly refuted that incorrect narrative,” Stanglass argued in the alibi discussion. say.

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Merchants agreed to allow prosecutors to make that point, noting that the Trump Organization defense team appeared to be “trying to distance itself” by referring to Trump “repeatedly” during the trial. Trump emerged from the defense bench and these proceedings. “

The annual bonuses Weisselberg and other company executives receive are reported on a tax form known as a 1099, which is typically used to pay independent contractors, not employees. That was standard practice for the Trump Organization’s accounting team before Trump became president in 2017, according to the testimony.

Lawyers for the Trump Organization have argued that Weisselberg, who still works at the company but is on paid leave, secretly orchestrated the tax fraud and hid his actions from Trump. Weisselberg testified that Trump approved his salary and annual bonus amounts but was unaware of tinkering with how he reported the income, which saved him $1.7 million between 2005 and 2017. taxes.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August to criminal tax fraud and conspiracy, among other charges. Facing up to 15 years in prison, he agreed to testify against the company in exchange for a significantly reduced sentence of five months in prison. He also has to pay about $2 million in back taxes and penalties.

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The case stems from a three-year investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Bragg said Trump’s investigation was still ongoing and suggested his team — rebuilt nearly a year after Vance left office — was conducting a fresh review of past priorities in the long-running investigation. The criminal investigation originally stemmed from an examination of hush money Trump made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign, allegedly to keep her quiet about their sexual encounters.

Separately, Trump, Wesselberg, and three of Trump’s adult children, as well as the Trump Organization, have been indicted by New York Attorney General Letitia James (Democrat) for alleged ties to manipulating Trump. The value of property owned by Trump and the deceitful conduct associated with the willful practice of illegal fundraising. Deceiving lenders and insurance providers to get better loan and policy rates.

The case is expected to go to trial late next year and could severely cripple the Trump Organization’s ability to do business in New York.

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