Two Trump Companies Tax Fraud Trial Nears Conclusion: BRAND-NEW YORK – On Thursday, defence attorneys in the criminal tax fraud trial of two firms in former President Donald Trump’s corporate empire assailed Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s former top financial lieutenant, and a prosecutor told the jury that Trump “knew perfectly” what was going on with the companies.
Both sides’ closing arguments centred on whether or not Weisselberg meant to benefit the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation from his years-long tax avoidance plan. New York law requires proof of intent in order to convict the firms, so this is likely to be the central topic for the jury as deliberations begin on Monday.
The Trump Corporation’s counsel, Susan Necheles, echoed the defence’s opening arguments from a little over a month earlier, telling the jury, “We are here today for one purpose and one reason only: the greed of Allen Weisselberg.” Weisselberg’s “attempt to cheat taxes” was “solely for his advantage,” according to Necheles, and the Trump family was unaware of it.
She further instructed the eight-man, four-woman jury to pay close attention to the legal instructions they would hear regarding the section of New York state penal law that lays out the circumstances needed to find a company guilty of committing a crime.
Prosecutors have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Weisseberg, Trump’s former CFO, and/or Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney committed tax fraud charges while operating “on behalf of the corporation” at trial.
Necheles remarked that “it requires the public to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the high-ranking officer behaved with some intent to benefit the corporation. “Eventually, you’ll see that that wasn’t the case. Mr Weisselberg’s criminal actions were motivated solely by a desire for personal gain.”
Following Necheles was Michael van der Veen, an attorney for the opposing party, Trump Payroll Corporation. Equally aggressive, he blasted the prosecution’s key witness with the words, “Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg.”
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Prosecutors need more than the fact that the disgraced CEO violated his taxes by neglecting to report off-the-books corporate perks as income and by having Trump’s company pay his wife an inflated salary so she could collect Social Security “What van der Veen told the jury.
The government has the burden of proof that it intended to help the Trump companies, and according to van der Veen, “the evidence is that there was no intention of benefit for the Trump Payroll Corporation.”
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass began the prosecution’s closing statements with a counterargument. He told the jury that Weisselberg “wanted to benefit the corporations, and that is enough” to sustain convictions based on the “tremendous quantity of evidence” presented at trial.
According to Steinglass, Weisselberg was able to get away with tax evasion at the enterprises because of the culture there. According to Steinglass, McConney was willing to testify for the authorities under a grant of immunity in exchange for helping bring down the discredited boss.
Trial testimony demonstrated that the two men conspired to help Weisselberg and another top executive get their salary lowered so they could utilise the resulting tax savings to pay for a variety of perks provided by the corporation.
“We both came out ahead. Achieving the twin goals of putting money in the hands of executives and minimising payroll expenses “contend Steinglass. He also explained that the only losers were a local, state, and federal tax authorities.
The corporations bearing Trump’s name may be fined up to $1.6 million if found guilty, and the conviction would stain the company’s image. This case stems from an indictment issued against Weisselberg in July 2021, in which he is accused of taking part in a tax fraud scheme that provided benefits to high-ranking executives at the expense of their firms.
Although Weisselberg is still employed by the Trump corporate empire, he is no longer the CFO of the Trump Organization. Weisselberg and other top Trump officials allegedly received luxurious homes in Manhattan and automobiles paid for by the company but did not mention this money in their tax returns.
Also, they got thousands of dollars in payments that weren’t subject to taxes. Trump was never arrested or indicted, and he skipped the trial. However, he posted criticisms of the prosecution on Truth Social throughout the Thanksgiving week.
NEW: Closing arguments at the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial got off to a rocky start as a company lawyer was caught showing jurors portions of witness testimony that had previously been stricken from the official court record. https://t.co/87pSOrjBsL
— Mike Sisak (@mikesisak) December 1, 2022
The trial’s closing phase comes amid a rush of other developments in civil and criminal actions involving Trump, including his announcement that he will run for president again in 2024. In an apparent effort to disassociate Trump from the case, defence attorneys said that he was unaware of the alleged plot during closing arguments.
When the trial begins on Friday, Steinglass will have the opportunity to respond to those statements, as they were deemed admissible by acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan. Despite Trump‘s claims, Steinglass contended, the former president was aware of what was happening with his top employees.
In an August plea deal with prosecutors, Weisselberg admitted guilt on all 15 counts against him. He acknowledged hiding $1.76 million in earnings through the alleged fraud. This agreement reduces Weisselberg’s potential prison time from 15 years down to just 100 days. This centred the trial’s attention on Weisselberg.
Int’g statutory interpretation question issue (w/ constitutional issues in background). However it turns out in prosecution of Trump Org. w/r/t Weisselberg’s crimes, it should be easy for NY’s legislature & governor to clarify/amend for the future. Should. https://t.co/7ucqO5DlJP
— John Q. Barrett (@JohnQBarrett) December 1, 2022
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office used him as their star witness. Furthermore, he was the primary defendant the Trump Organization’s legal team attacked. Under cross-examination by defence lawyers, while still collecting his six-figure income while on paid leave from the Trump Organization, he claimed that he had acted out of his own avarice, wanting pre-tax dollars.
The defence claimed that his actions were part of a secret Weisselberg scheme against the corporations. One of the most dramatic moments of the trial came when defence attorney Alan Futerfas pointed out that Weisselberg had worked for the Trump family for nearly 50 years, eventually becoming the most trusted individual in the corporation who did not share the Trump surname.
Asking, “Mr Weisselberg, did you live up to the faith that was placed in you?” Asked Futerfas. Weisselberg confessed he did not. The defence attorney asked, “And you did it for your own personal gain?” Weisselberg, seemingly fighting back tears, admitted, “I did.” On the other hand, during prosecutor Susan Hoffinger’s direct questioning, Weisselberg admitted that the corporations did benefit from the alleged tax scam.
CLOSING BOMBSHELL: Prosecutor says Donald Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with top Trump Organization executives involved in tax fraud scheme https://t.co/7SkyAZjibw
— Mike Sisak (@mikesisak) December 2, 2022
Weisselberg stated that the corporation was able to save money by paying for some of its tax-free advantages by reducing its compensation. This allowed the company to pay less in payroll taxes and save money on Medicare contributions. Steinglass emphasised this point in his closing statement. “Trump Organization decreased wages for their employees.
That’s quite a perk, wouldn’t you say “the prosecutor inquired. Allowing tax evasion among your workforce might reduce the cost of paying them. After a short break in the trial on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, in New York, senior vice president and controller for the Trump Organization Jeffrey McConney returns to the tribunal.
Additionally, the jury will have to decide McConney’s position among other things. During his deposition, he portrayed himself as an ordinary worker who did whatever Weisselberg told him to do. “And who was I to tell? McConney testified, saying he was afraid of losing his job if he spoke up.
In the law, a lot can turn on a little. Why the jury’s interpretation of “in behalf of” might be determinative of Trump organization’s guilt at the soon to finish criminal trial.
— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) December 1, 2022
Within his address to the jury, Steinglass mocked his own self-portrait. In particular, he pointed out a hidden financial log that McConney used to keep track of wage cuts demanded by Weisselberg and others, as well as the equivalent bonuses paid for by the corporation.
He explained that the log served as a second set of books for both the companies and the Internal Revenue Service. To paraphrase Steinglass, McConney was “a co-conspirator,” not a rank-and-file company soldier.
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