Former President Donald Trump’s family, businesses, and senior financial advisor Allen Weisselberg choked back tears as he admitted on Thursday that he had abused their trust by committing tax fraud crimes for his own advantage.
Shortly after testifying as a prosecution witness and accusing another Trump executive and one of the Trump Organization’s several firms in the crimes, the former CFO of the Trump Organization made the revelation during cross-examination by a defense attorney for one of the Trump companies.
The conflicting testimony distinguished the trial of the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation before the Manhattan Supreme Court as its most dramatic development to date.
They have entered a not-guilty plea to charges that they gave Weisselberg and other top Trump executives free housing, cars, and other goodies in the form of covert, off-the-books payments.
On November 17, 2022, in New York City, former CFO Allen Weisselberg exits the courtroom for a lunch break during a trial before the New York Supreme Court. The Trump Organization is accused of filing fraudulent tax returns, altering business records, and committing criminal tax fraud in an effort to cheat the government.
Former CFO of Trump Organization turns on Trump and his family. Allen Weisselberg testifies in court Donald Trump, Don Jr, and Eric Trump were directly involved in a massive fraud scheme. (CBS News) pic.twitter.com/AzTSZkrtfV
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) November 17, 2022
Weisselberg, the former CFO, has admitted guilt to 15 criminal charges related to the investigation and is currently in the second day of testimony.
Weisselberg had been employed by the Trump family for around 50 years, ascending to the position of a chief financial officer and being entrusted with managing all accounting and financial records for the vast corporate empire, according to defense attorney Alan Futerfas. Then he started a frenzied courtroom discussion.
Futerfas said, “Mr. Weisselberg, did you keep the faith that was placed in you?”
Weisselberg admitted that he didn’t.
Defense attorney: “And you did it for your own personal gain?”
I did, Weisselberg admitted.
Futerfas questioned, “Are you embarrassed by what you did?”
More than you can think, Weisselberg remarked.
After pleading guilty in August to all the criminal charges against him in a 2021 indictment that indicted him and the two firms, the now-former CFO was turned into the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s most crucial witness against the two Trump companies.
The former president of the United States, who recently declared a run for the White House in 2024, is not accused in the case and is not anticipated to show up at the trial.
Weisselberg entered a plea deal with the prosecution in which he agreed to testify against the alleged Trump businesses in return for a lesser sentence – around 100 days in jail as opposed to the maximum 15-year prison term he faced.
Weisselberg’s testimony on Thursday, in response to inquiries from the prosecutor Susan Hoffinger, showed that the Trump companies benefited from the unethical financial strategies he employed to avoid paying taxes to the federal, state, and the city of New York by paying him to lower salaries and obtaining lower costs for the Medicaid portion of payroll expenses.
Cutting his income and bonus was one of the ways he avoided paying the tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition that Trump willingly covered for Weisselberg’s grandchildren.
Weisselberg stated that despite his testimony that it was the correct thing to do, the move nonetheless allowed him to pay his payments with pre-tax money, resulting in sizable savings.
Weisselberg’s testimony regarding the effects on the companies is crucial because it is necessary to demonstrate that the tax-free payments were improperly directed by a senior executive while performing his or her duties and were made “on behalf” of the companies in order to convict the Trump firms under New York Law.
Weisselberg said that the majority of the indictment’s counts expressly pertained to falsifying his personal tax returns and other of his confessed offenses in response to Futerfas’s attempts to undermine that evidence through his questions.
Right, Futerfas asked, “The company never saw your tax returns.”
That is accurate, Weisselberg said.
The disgraced former Trump executive admitted that Jeffrey McConney, the Trump Corporation’s controller, was the only one who cooperated with him and was aware of his tax fraud schemes.
McConney testified against the firms early in the trial after receiving immunity from the prosecution, giving some of his testimony as a hostile witness. Weisselberg was the main player in the suspected tax avoidance schemes, according to his testimony.
Weisselberg was painted by the defense team as a prodigal son who had let the Trump family down during one of their opening arguments, and Futerfas’ cross-examination on Thursday seemed to confirm this.
Futerfas questioned, “Wasn’t it your duty to safeguard the family and their businesses from precisely this kind of behavior?
Yes, Weisselberg replied.
On Friday, the trial is expected to pick back up.