Accusation hinges on Trump Organization tax evasion case
NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax evasion trial wrapped their case ahead of schedule on Monday, pinning hopes on convicting Donald Trump’s company largely on the word of two top executives who made deals before testifying that they were conspiring to avoid corporate taxes – paid benefits.
Allen Weisselberg, the company’s longtime chief financial officer, and Jeffrey McConney, senior vice president and comptroller, testified for the bulk of the prosecution’s eight-day case, bringing the drama of their own wrongdoings admitted to a heavy trial of numbers, spreadsheets, tax returns and payslips.
Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty in August to dodging taxes on an additional $1.7 million, had to testify as a prosecution witness under a plea deal in return for a promised five-year sentence. months in jail. McConney was granted immunity to testify.
Lawyers for the Trump Organization are expected to begin calling witnesses Monday afternoon, likely starting with an accountant who has handled years of tax filings and other financial matters for Trump, the Trump Organization and hundreds of businesses. entities.
Prosecutors had considered calling the accountant, Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA LLP, but decided against it. The defense said they would call him instead.
Prosecutors called only three other witnesses: the Trump Organization’s accounts payable supervisor, a forensic accountant with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a state tax auditor, to the witness box on Monday, who investigated Weisselberg’s taxes.
Weisselberg, now a senior adviser to the firm, said last week that he conspired with McConney, his subordinate, to hide more than a decade of extras from his taxable income, but that neither Trump nor the family would were involved.
McConney testified that Weisselberg and another executive, Michael Calamari Sr., relied on him over the years to falsify payroll records to hide extras such as Manhattan apartments and Mercedes-Benz cars from their income. taxable, in part by reducing their wages for the cost of these benefits and issuing falsified W-2 forms.
Manhattan prosecutors allege the Trump Organization helped top executives avoid paying taxes on company-paid benefits and is responsible for Weisselberg’s wrongdoings because he was a “high-level agent.” direction” acting on its behalf.
The tax evasion case is the only lawsuit to stem from the Manhattan prosecutor’s three-year investigation into Trump and his business practices. If found guilty, the company could be fined more than $1 million and have difficulty closing deals.
Trump blamed Bender and Mazars for the company’s troubles, writing on his Truth Social platform last week: “The highly paid accounting firm should have picked these things up regularly – we relied on them.” THIS IS REALLY UNFAIR!”
Mazars cut ties with Trump in February and said the annual financial statements he prepares for him “should no longer be relied upon” after New York Attorney General Letitia James said they routinely misrepresent the value of assets.
James filed a lawsuit in September accusing Trump and his company of boosting his net worth by billions of dollars and misleading banks and others about the value of assets such as golf courses, hotels and his estate of Mar-a-Lago.
Trump’s financial statements are not part of the criminal case.
Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.