Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg ‘nearing plea deal with prosecutors’

Trump Legal Troubles Weisselberg (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A top Trump Organization executive charged over a tax avoidance scheme that allegedly ran for 15 years is nearing a plea deal with Manhattan prosecutors.

Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer (CFO) of the Trump Organization and one of Donald Trump’s closest aides, was scheduled to be tried on 24 October over allegations that he took more than $1.7m from the company in off-the-books compensation, including rent, car payments and school tuition fees.

According to three sources quoted by the Associated Press, Mr Weisselberg will plead guilty on Thursday but will not cooperate with a broader investigation into the former president.

Mr Weisselberg’s attempts to dismiss the charges were denied last week by judge Juan Merchan who said the evidence presented to a grand jury was “legally sufficient to support the charges in the indictment” and that those proceedings were properly conducted and their “integrity unimpaired”.

Manhattan prosecutors said it was an “orchestrated” scheme to compensate executives “off the books” to avoid paying taxes.

Mr Trump and his family-run business have claimed the charges brought against the organisation and the CFO are the results of a “biased” investigation led initially by former Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance and now by Alvin Bragg.

If the plea deal becomes final, Mr Weisselberg, 75, will be branded a felon.

He could face prison time of up to 15 years if convicted by a jury. A plea deal could potentially spare him both a lengthy trial and sentence.

Sources with knowledge about the plea deal said he might be expected to serve a prison sentence of five months, and with good behaviour, this could be reduced to 100 days.

Mr Weisselberg also faces significant financial penalties if convicted – the tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization are punishable by a fine of double the amount of unpaid taxes, or $250,000, whichever is larger.

According to court papers, Mr Weisselberg’s lawyers and prosecutors met with the judge on Monday who then scheduled a hearing for Thursday, indicating that a deal has been reached and a plea could be entered.

The Trump Organization will not join Mr Weisselberg in pleading guilty on Thursday. It was reported that while he might admit guilt, he is not expected to implicate anyone else in the organisation.

The New York Times reported that Mr Weisselberg’s lawyer, Nicholas A Gravante Jr, confirmed he was in negotiations but declined to discuss further details.