Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty, will testify against firm
Exec won’t assist probe, but his deal bolsters case against Trump Org
The Trumps’ hot streak against Uncle Sam, though, may be coming to an end.
Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former CFO, pleaded guilty Thursday to 15 felonies in a tax-avoidance scheme that was at once elaborate and simplistic.
The question now is whether his agreement with prosecutors represents a win for them or for Donald Trump.
This much is clear: Weisselberg did not fall on his sword for his former boss. Facing 15 years in prison, Weisselberg will get five months and could go free in fewer than 100 days, the New York Times reported. That suggests Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg expects the deal to significantly aid his case against the Trump Organization.
At the same time, Weisselberg did not agree to assist in that investigation. But he pledged to testify about his role in the scheme if called when Bragg brings the business to trial.
That testimony, along with his admission Thursday to a litany of crimes involving his former employer, will bolster Bragg’s chances of being the first to beat The Donald in criminal court. Weisselberg will also pay $2 million in taxes, interest and penalties.
Donald Trump himself has not been indicted, although his firm has.
The essence of the scheme was this: By receiving millions of dollars’ worth of benefits from the Trump Organization that were not reported to the IRS, Weisselberg avoided paying income taxes on their value and the company did not pay payroll taxes on it.
The firm has portrayed its employees’ untaxed benefits as standard perks, but as Weisselberg confessed in court Thursday, these were not cups of coffee or occasional Knicks tickets. Rather, the Trump Organization supplemented his salary by paying private-school tuition for his grandchildren, leasing him a Mercedes and covering the rent for his Manhattan apartment, among other things.
The school payments alone amounted to about $500,000 from 2012 to 2019, the kids’ mother — Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law — told the Wall Street Journal.
Weisselberg is a Trump loyalist whose tenure with the organization goes back to the 1970s, when he was a junior bookkeeper during Fred Trump’s reign. He went on to hold dozens of positions, from which he began resigning last June. But the prospect of spending his golden years in prison may have led him to take the deal.