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Former Trump executive reportedly in talks to plead guilty to perjury

Trump’s longtime financial lieutenant spent 100 days in jail after tax crime convictions last year

Alex Woodward
Saturday 03 February 2024 18:34 GMT
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Donald Trump calls civil fraud trial an ‘unconstitutional witch hunt’ before closing arguments

Allen Weisselberg, the longtime Trump Organization executive who pleaded guilty to tax-related crimes in 2022, is reportedly negotiating a plea agreement on a pending perjury charge in a case stemming from Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in Manhattan.

The potential agreement with the Manhattan district attorney’s office would reportedly require his admission that he lied during his testimony in that separate case and in his interviews with the office of New York attorney general.

The deal, first reported by the New York Times, follows Weisselberg’s 2022 conviction on 15 violations of New York tax law, after prosecutors accused him of participating in a years-long “systemic” fraud scheme. That case involved a “sweeping and audacious illegal payment” arrangement in which Trump companies paid him generous benefits – including free rent, luxury car leases, and private school tuition for his grandchildren – that were not reported for tax purposes.

Another potential plea arrangement comes after years-long parallel criminal and civil cases from the New York attorney general and Manhattan district attorney, whose office has reportedly sought Weisselberg’s cooperation in its criminal investigation into Mr Trump’s alleged financial crimes. That case is tentatively headed to trial on 25 March. Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Weisselberg is not expected to testify against his former boss in that case, according to the Times.

The Independent has requested comment from an attorney for Weisselberg, and a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Allen Weisselberg stands next to Donald Trump in 2017 (AP)

If he does reach an agreement with prosecutors, it will be Weisselberg’s second guilty plea in as many years for crimes stemming from a mountain of fraud and tax evasion allegations in New York civil and criminal courts.

Last year, Mr Trump’s former top financial lieutenant spent 100 days in Rikers Island jail and testified at a civil fraud trial targeting the Trump family business and the former president’s sprawling real estate empire.

He also was enmeshed in a criminal tax fraud trial involving two Trump Organization subsidiaries, among the first Trump-connected entities to be convicted of crimes. A New York City jury found the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation guilty on more than a dozen charges and they were fined $1.6m.

It remains unclear what statements Weisselberg would agree were false. He is also a defendant in the civil fraud case, along with Mr Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and a host of Trump-related entities.

In his time on the witness stand, lawyers for the state grilled Weisselberg over what he knew about the creation of statements of financial condition, the documents at the heart of the case. Those documents included grossly inflated valuations of Mr Trump’s net worth and assets in an effort to obtain favourable financing terms for some of his brand-building properties, according to a lawsuit.

The attorney general’s office is seeking to recover $370m in so-called “ill-gotten gains” that the defendants would not otherwise have obtained if they had included accurate assessments of his wealth in those documents.

Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, also wants to bar Mr Trump and Weisselberg from the state’s real estate industry for the rest of their lives.

Following 11 weeks of trial testimony, the judge overseeing that case is expected to issue a final judgment by mid-February.

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