politics

Trump Org. guilty on all counts in a tax evasion trial in New York

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Prosecutors said the company criminally dodged taxes and scrapped payroll taxes by offering its executives undeclared benefits, such as leases on luxury cars and apartments. Trump was not charged, but the conviction forced a jury to conclude that the scheme was carried out in part for the benefit of the company.

Prosecutors told the jury during closing arguments that Trump was “explicitly sanctioning tax evasion,” although New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan argued an objection to the claim.

Before deliberations, Merchan asked the jury, some of whom reportedly expressed distaste for Trump during the selection, to forget their personal feelings about Trump.

“You must set aside any bias you may have for or against Mr. Trump and his family, and you must not allow any such bias to influence your verdict in this case,” he said.

In a statement, Trump vowed to appeal and said the 12-juror verdict was “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”

“New York City is a tough place to be ‘Trump’ as businesses and people flee our once great city!” said Trump, who has not claimed residency in New York since 2019.

A lawyer for the company said the appeal would focus on arguments that the crimes were not committed “in the name” of the company – a technical term requiring proof that the employees who committed the crimes did not were not acting solely to advance their own interests.

“We have filed many documents, the defense team, about the meaning of these words,” attorney Alan Futerfas told reporters. “The judge recognized that there was not a lot of definition on this, and that will certainly be one of the arguments that we will make. And that was the crux of the matter.

Sentencing was set for January 13. If the judge imposes the maximum sentence on each count, the Trump Organization will owe $1.6 million.

Two units of the Trump Organization – The Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp. were sentenced on Tuesday, the second day of deliberations. Former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who still works for the company, pleaded guilty to charges earlier this year and agreed to testify against his employer in exchange for a lighter sentence.

The trial began in October in a state court in lower Manhattan.

When he spoke, Weisselberg testified that he received $1.76 million in off-the-books compensation from the company and deliberately dodged income taxes, conspiring with the company’s comptroller, Jeffrey McConney, who has not been charged.

The scheme allegedly continued until Trump became president, when prosecutors say the company engaged in an effort to clean up its illegal practices to avoid scrutiny.

But Weisselberg also testified that he acted out of personal greed to boost his own bottom line – giving fodder to defense attorneys, who argued the company was not responsible for his conduct.

Trump figured prominently throughout the trial: He personally paid Weisselberg’s grandchildren’s tuition and signed a lease for his lieutenant’s Upper West Side apartment overlooking the Hudson River, said witnesses.

Prosecutors argued the scheme went beyond Weisselberg, with at least two other executives also receiving untaxed benefits, and a large number of employees improperly paid their bonuses on tax forms intended for independent contractors.

The Trump Organization “has cultivated a culture of fraud and deception,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said during closing arguments.

Trump’s lawyers blamed Weisselberg entirely, saying he was only there for his own benefit.

“We are here today for one reason and one reason only: Allen Weisselberg’s greed,” defense attorney Susan Necheles said.

The conviction adds to a host of legal issues for Trump. He and his family members and company are also charged in a separate civil suit brought by New York Attorney General Tish James, which seeks to prohibit them from running a business or engaging in real estate transactions in New York. York.

A broader Manhattan DA investigation into Trump remains open, although it stalled earlier this year.

He also faces a federal investigation into his handling of classified documents that led to a raid of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

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