(Bloomberg) — The Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, testified that he cheated on taxes together with the firm’s controller and the two Trump companies on trial for criminal tax fraud.
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Later on Thursday, in state court in Manhattan, the former CFO — who is on leave from the firm but is still drawing his $640,000 annual salary — grew emotional when asked whether he had betrayed the Trump family.
Weisselberg’s admission that he committed the crimes together with the Trump companies, Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp., is the linchpin of the case against them. He first admitted it in August when he pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against them. The controller, Jeffrey McConney, testified for the prosecution earlier in the trial but was so evasive that he was declared a hostile witness.
“I committed those crimes with Jeff McConney, who I dealt with directly, and Trump Payroll and the Trump Corporation,” Weisselberg told the jury, under questioning by Executive Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger.
Prosecutors for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg are trying to show that the alleged scheme at the Trump companies wasn’t secretly hatched by Weisselberg and McConney, as the defense contends, but was part of the firm’s entrenched business practices. Donald Trump himself, who isn’t charged, has called the trial a baseless vendetta.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Weisselberg must testify truthfully and then could end up serving as brief a term as 100 days in jail. The maximum term for his crimes is 15 years in prison.
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On cross-examination, defense attorney Alan Futerfas for Trump Payroll asked Weisselberg about the Trumps themselves.
“You schemed with Jeff McConney?” Futerfas asked.
“Yes,” Weisselberg said.
“Did you scheme with any member of the Trump family?” the lawyer asked
“No,” Weisselberg said.
Futerfas went through the criminal counts facing Weisselberg.
“That was your W-2?” he asked, referring to the false tax returns Weisselberg had pleaded guilty to filing.
“Yes, it was,” Weisselberg said.
Futerfas then asked whether he had lived up to the trust the Trump Organization had placed in him.
“Did you betray that trust?” Futerfas asked.
“Yes,” Weisselberg said.
“And you did it for your own personal gain?” Futerfas asked.
“Correct,” Weisselberg said.
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The 75-year-old executive — who has worked for the family for half a century, starting under Donald Trump’s father, Fred — became teary, his voice cracking with emotion, as the questioning went on.
“Are you embarrassed by what you did?” Futerfas asked.
“More than you can imagine,” Weisselberg said.
“Ashamed?” the attorney pressed.
“Yes, very much so,” Weisselberg said.
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“Do you need a break?” Futerfas asked.
“I’m OK,” Weisselberg said.
The judge declared a recess nonetheless. Weisselberg is to continue his testimony Thursday afternoon.
The case is People v. Trump Organization, 01473-2021, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).
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