NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s longtime finance chief is expected to plead guilty Thursday in a tax evasion case that is the only criminal prosecution to emerge from a lengthy investigation into the former president’s company. three people familiar with the case. matter to The Associated Press.
The Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, was scheduled to stand trial in October on allegations that he received more than $1.7 million in off-the-record compensation from the company, including rent, car payments and school tuition.
Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office and Weisselberg’s attorneys met Monday with the judge in charge of the case, Juan Manuel Merchan, according to court records. The judge then scheduled a hearing on the matter for 9 a.m. Thursday, but did not specify why.
The people who spoke to the AP did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case. They said the purpose of Thursday’s hearing was to get Weisselberg to plead guilty, but warned that plea deals sometimes fall apart before they are finalized in court.
Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr., he told The New York Times on Monday that Weisselberg has been involved in plea bargains to resolve the case, but did not specify the terms of a possible plea deal. Contacted by the AP, Gravante declined to comment.
The Times, citing two people with knowledge of the matter, said Weisselberg was expected to receive a five-month jail sentence, which would make him eligible for release after about 100 days. The deal would not require Weisselberg to testify or cooperate in any way with an ongoing criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices.
Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, is also charged in the case but does not appear to be involved in the plea deal talks. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment. A message seeking comment was left with an attorney for the Trump Organization.
News of Weisselberg’s plea negotiations came days after the judge denied requests by his attorneys and the Trump Organization to dismiss the case. The judge dropped a criminal tax fraud charge against the company citing the statute of limitations, but more than a dozen other charges remain.
In seeking to dismiss the case, Weisselberg’s attorneys argued that prosecutors in the Democratic-led district attorney’s office were punishing him because he did not offer damaging information against the former president.
The judge rejected that argument, saying the evidence presented to the grand jury was legally sufficient to support the charges.
Weisselberg, who turned 75 on Monday, is the only Trump executive charged in the year-long criminal investigation launched by former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who went to the Supreme Court to secure Trump’s tax records. Vance’s successor, Alvin Bragg, is now overseeing the investigation. Several other Trump executives have been granted immunity to testify before a grand jury in the case.
Prosecutors alleged that Weisselberg and the Trump Organization planned to give top executives, including Weisselberg, unofficial compensation for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was charged with defrauding the federal, state and city governments out of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and unearned tax refunds.
The most serious charge against Weisselberg, grand theft, carried a potential sentence of five to 15 years in prison. Tax fraud charges against the business are punishable by a fine of twice the amount of unpaid taxes, or $250,000, whichever is greater.
Trump has not been charged in the criminal investigation, but prosecutors say he signed some of the checks at the heart of the case. Trump, who denounced the New York investigations as a “political witch hunt,” said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate business and in no way a crime.
Last week, Trump sat down for deposition in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ parallel civil investigation into allegations that Trump’s company misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.
In the months after Weisselberg’s arrest, the criminal investigation appeared to be progressing toward a possible criminal indictment of Trump himself, but the investigation slowed, a grand jury was disbanded and a top prosecutor left after Bragg took office in January. , although he insists that it is continuous.
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