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Criminal trial for fraud against Trump Organization to begin on Monday

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NEW YORK – Trump Organization, the namesake company of former President Donald Trump, is set to go on trial Monday for alleged tax crimes – the result of a lengthy investigation into the company and its executives related to fraud and other practices potentially illegal business.

Trump is not personally charged and the part of the investigation for which he could still face criminal charges has yet to be concluded by investigators from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Bragg has promised to announce the results of the remaining parts of the Trump investigation when it is finalized, but so far the only charges against Trump Organization, its subsidiary Trump Payroll Corporation and its longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

Weisselberg in August pleaded guilty to 15 counts tied to a long-running alleged fraud scheme within the organization and is required to testify in the criminal trial as part of a plea deal.

Jury selection set to begin Monday at New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan could involve hundreds of potential panelists. They will likely be asked, among other things, if their feelings for the former president are so strong that they wouldn’t be able to put them aside and fairly assess the evidence.

Prosecutors allege 15-year tax evasion scheme as Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg are arraigned on multiple criminal charges

Prosecutors say the case centers on what they describe as a 15-year-old tax evasion scheme involving untaxed benefits like luxury cars and expensive apartments for corporate executives, including Weisselberg, who has been described as the kingpin of the tax avoidance operation. Weisselberg began his employment with the Trump Organization in 1973.

Before becoming chief financial officer, Weisselberg, a career employee of the Trump Organization, was an accountant and controller. Weisselberg was among a set of executives who “received a substantial portion of their income through indirect and disguised means,” according to an indictment filed July 1, 2021.

Manhattan DA convenes new grand jury at Trump Org. case to weigh potential loads

Weisselberg, who was to stand trial alongside the corporation, was promised a five-month jail term if he testified against the corporation. He faced up to 15 years in prison.

The company is accused, under Weisselberg’s supervision, of keeping two sets of books in an attempt to conceal benefits he and others received in compensation. He personally avoided paying $900,000 in taxes due to under-reporting compensation.

Weisselberg, 75, could serve a harsher prison sentence if it is determined he lied. But his agreement, formalized in court on August 18, limits the scope of his promised testimony. He is only expected to testify to his own criminal conduct and may avoid discussing Trump directly.

With these confessions, prosecutors believe they will prove the transfers of criminal liability to Weisselberg’s employer. In the past, prosecutors have unsuccessfully tried to get Weisselberg to cooperate against Trump, people with knowledge of the discussions previously told The Post. These people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The Trump Organization and Weisselberg were indicted in mid-2021. The charges followed a protracted legal tussle between Trump and former district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. over subpoenas seeking Trump’s personal and business tax returns issued in 2019 to his accounting firm. long-standing Mazars USA.

That battle was resolved at the Supreme Court, which ruled that Trump, as sitting president, had no immunity in state court cases.

Interest in Trump’s business practices by New York law enforcement was first generated by the 2019 congressional testimony of his former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen. Cohen, who is now an outspoken critic of Trump, previously pleaded guilty in federal court to making false statements to Congress and breaking campaign finance laws when he gave $130,000 to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels allegedly on behalf of Trump during the 2016 presidential race.

Cohen met with the district attorney’s office several times to guide them in the operations of the Trump Organization. Another company executive, Jeffrey McConney, has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury that led to the Trump Organization tax case and is likely to testify in open court.

McConney was comptroller under Weisselberg and knows many of the company’s practices as well.

If found guilty, the Trump Organization and its subsidiary Trump Payroll Corp. could face a combined $1.6 million fine from New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case. No individual can be sent to prison as a result of a corporate conviction.

The remaining part of the DA’s criminal investigation — which won’t be directly implicated in the trial beginning Monday — focuses on Trump’s alleged practice of gambling with the value of his assets to deceive lenders in order to obtain more favorable loan terms using manipulated numbers that have been documented in annual financial statements disclosing a breakdown of Trump’s personal wealth.

Trump and the Trump Organization have also been accused of duping insurance companies on the extent of his wealth to get better rates, while downplaying the value of his wealth for tax benefits.

New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, three of his adult children and Weisselberg in September over his use of financial statements, following his own lengthy investigation. His civil case paralleled Bragg’s criminal one, and attorneys in his office assisted Bragg’s team.

“The inflated valuations of assets in the [financial] The statements cannot be discounted or excused as merely the result of an exaggeration or a good faith estimate upon which reasonable real estate professionals may differ,” James’ 222-page lawsuit reads.

Trump called the lawsuit unfounded and repeatedly said James was engaged in a “witch hunt” during his review of the company. The case is pending.