Former Trump accountant Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty to perjury for lying at fraud trial

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Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, pleaded guilty to perjury Monday for lying at former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial.

Prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office had accused Weisselberg of lying under oath when he answered questions in a deposition in May and at the October trial about allegations that Trump lied about his wealth on financial statements given to banks and insurance companies.

“It is a crime to lie in depositions and at trial – plain and simple,” Bragg's office said in a statement.

Weisselberg will be sentenced to five months in jail, the judge said. Sentencing is scheduled April 10.

"Allen Weisselberg looks forward to putting this situation behind him,” his lawyer Seth Rosenberg said in a statement.

Weisselberg has already served a jail term for tax fraud and falsification of business records in an unrelated case. But he received a $2 million settlement when leaving the Trump Organization and hasn’t cooperated with government lawyers while testifying at Trump’s fraud trial.

The civil fraud trial resulted in a $454 million judgment against Trump for inflating the value of his real estate to get benefits such as lower interest rates from lenders.

The perjury conviction could serve as a warning to other witnesses in Bragg's trial against Trump on criminal charges of falsifying business records, which is set to begin March 25. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

The Trump Organization's former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg arrives at a New York courtroom on Nov. 15, 2022. Manhattan prosecutors are weighing a potential perjury charge against Weisselberg, Donald Trump’s former corporate finance chief, in connection with testimony he gave in October 2023 at the ex-president’s New York civil fraud trial, two people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press.

Weisselberg on 'short leash' at Trump Organization, judge said

During Trump's civil fraud trial, Weisselberg testified in October that he “never focused” on the square footage of Trump’s penthouse apartment in Trump Tower. Trump's financial statements listed the apartment as nearly three times the actual size of 10,996 square feet, which resulted in a $200 million overstatement of its value.

But Forbes magazine had discussed the apartment’s value with Weisselberg for years while estimating Trump’s net worth.

New York Judge Arthur Engoron wrote in his judgment about the case that Weisselberg’s testimony was “intentionally evasive, with large gaps of ‘I don’t remember.’”

“The Trump organization keeps Weisselberg on a short leash, and it shows,” Engoron wrote.

Allen Weisselberg, right, stands behind then President-elect Donald Trump during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, on Jan. 11, 2017. The judge in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial is demanding more information after Weisselberg, a key witness, was reported to be in negotiations to plead guilty to perjury in connection with his testimony in the lawsuit.

Weisselberg has already been jailed for work at Trump Organization

Weisselberg was chief financial officer for the Trump Organization from 2002 to 2022, when he pleaded guilty to 15 criminal counts of tax fraud for failing to disclose $1.7 million in benefits and for falsification of business records.

He was sentenced to five months in jail and released after 100 days. New York Judge Juan Merchan said that after listening to Weisselberg's criminal trial testimony he regretted agreeing to a five-month jail term, and if not for a plea agreement, he "would be imposing a sentence much greater than that."

Merchan also will preside at Trump's criminal trial. Trump is charged with falsifying business records to hide hush money payments to an adult film star and a former Playboy model.

A Trump spokesperson accused Bragg of ignoring the lying of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer who is a key witness in the fraud case and the pending criminal case. Cohen, who negotiated the hush money payments at the heart of the criminal case, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Russia and served time in prison.

"The DA has turned a blind eye to the admitted and repeated perjury of their star witness, Michael Cohen, and has been on a crusade of vindictive and oppressive pressure leading, today, to a forced plea by Allen H. Weisselberg,” spokesperson Steven Cheung said. “These are corrupt, election interference persecution tactics ripped from the playbook of Josef Stalin, which cannot be allowed in America.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Allen Weisselberg, Donald Trump's former CFO, pleads guilty to perjury