Allen Weisellberg, longtime Trump Organization CFO, was charged today with numerous felonies including evading taxes on more than $1.7 million in income. The Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corporation were also charged as part of a long-running investigation into the former president’s real estate business by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance along with New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In the arraignment in New York State Supreme Court Thursday afternoon, Weisselberg and the Trump entities pleaded not guilty to all counts.
A specially convened grand jury returned the indictments yesterday. Weisselberg surrendered himself to the DA’s office early this morning.
Prosecutors described a 15-year tax scheme and said the charges include 15 felony counts, including a scheme to defraud, conspiracy, grand larceny and falsifying business records. They said they have digital drives with grand jury testimony, bookkeeping records, tax records, statements of potential witnesses.
A Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree says in part the company provided perks to employees including the CFO including free rent, utilities, car leases, tuition, cash and other gifts, that were not reported as income.
Manhattan prosecutor Carey Dunne said in court, “There is no clearer example of a company that should be held” responsible.
Prosecutors asked that Weisselberg’s passport be taken because they believe he’s a flight risk. “There is “ample record of travel by private jet, ample means to support himself out of our jurisdiction,” they said.
In a statement Thursday, AG Leticia James called the day “an important marker in the ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg. In the indictment, we allege, among other things, financial wrongdoing whereby the Trump Organization engaged in a scheme with Mr. Weisselberg to avoid paying taxes on certain compensation. This investigation will continue, and we will follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead.”
The Trump Organization cried foul, saying Weisselberg is “a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather who has worked at the Trump Organization for 48 years. He is now being used by the Manhattan District Attorney as a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former President.”
Attorneys for Weisselberg and the Trump Organization, speaking to the press outside the courthouse, called the investigation purely political and said charges against the CFO should properly have been the focus of a civil case, not criminal.
Weisselberg is the latest in a string of Trump employees and longtime close associates who have been charged — and a number convicted — for work they did with and for the former president. Prosecutors have been hoping that Weisselberg may help them build a case against Trump himself.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, told CNN, “Allen will be the fall guy, just as I was the fall guy.” Cohen went to prison after being convicted of campaign finance violations during Trump’s first presidential run.
Donald Trump also weighed in: “The political Witch Hunt by the Radical Left Democrats, with New York now taking over the assignment, continues. It is dividing out Country like never before!”