The Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, turned himself in to a Manhattan District Attorney’s office Thursday on charges of tax evasion, allegedly over benefits Weisselberg’s family received from former President Donald Trump when he was still CEO of his namesake company.
In a statement, the office of the former president called the decision to charge Weisselberg, a matter of political payback.
“The District Attorney is bringing a criminal prosecution involving employee benefits that neither the IRS nor any other District Attorney would ever think of bringing,” the statement read. “This is not justice; this is politics.”
The Trump Organization is expected to be charged with fraud and tax crimes, in addition to the charges leveled against Weisselberg, per the New York Times.
“The Trump Organization, the real estate business that catapulted Donald J. Trump to tabloid fame, television riches, and ultimately the White House, will be charged Thursday with fraud and tax crimes, according to two people who were briefed on the matter,” the Times reported Thursday. “The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which has been conducting the investigation, also brought charges against Allen H. Weisselberg, Mr. Trump’s long-serving and trusted chief financial officer, according to several people who requested anonymity because the charges were not yet public. Mr. Weisselberg, who faces related charges, surrendered earlier in the day.”
Dashing Trump opponents’ hopes, however, the former president will not be charged in connection with the Manhattan DA’s investigation. It is possible, however, that New York prosecutors believe that they can press Weisselberg to reveal incriminating information about his former boss.
Weisselberg, however, reportedly plans to fight the charges.
“Mr. Weisselberg intends to plead not guilty, and he will fight these charges in court,” his lawyers said in their own statement.
“The charges against the Trump Organization and Mr. Weisselberg — whom Mr. Trump once praised for doing ‘whatever was necessary to protect the bottom line’ — emerged from the district attorney’s sweeping inquiry into the business practices of Mr. Trump and his company,” the New York Times noted.
The charges against Weisselberg stem, Bloomberg reported, from a series of “perks” he was afforded for a job well done, including the use of Manhattan apartments belonging to the Trump Organization, private school tuition, and even a tax preparer. The district attorney contends that the “perks” were really “benefits” that Weisselberg enjoyed as part of his employment, and that he should have paid state taxes.
Bloomberg itself noted that “the property transactions exist in a muddy middle-ground between gifts and compensation, and most would have tax implications, lawyers say. Barry Weisselberg worked for Trump in the ice rink business in New York, and his use of the apartments could be considered either a gift for Trump’s tax purposes or additional income for the son on top of his salary.”
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