Donald Trump’s longtime finance chief is expected to plead guilty as early as Thursday in a tax evasion case that is the only criminal prosecution to stem from a lengthy investigation into the former president’s company, three people familiar with the president said. dossier to the Associated Press.
Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, was due to stand trial in October over allegations he received more than $1.7 million in non-company-compliant compensation, including rent, car payments and tuition fees.
The judge handling the case, Juan Manuel Merchan, scheduled a hearing for Thursday but did not say why. People who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity said the purpose of Thursday’s hearing was for Weisselberg to plead guilty, but warned that plea deals sometimes fall apart before they are finalized before the court. court.
Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr. told the New York Times Monday that Weisselberg was engaged in plea negotiations to resolve the case, but did not specify the terms of a possible plea deal. Reached by the AP, Gravante declined to comment.
The Times, citing two people with knowledge of the case, said Weisselberg should be sentenced to five months in prison, which would make him eligible for release after about 100 days. The deal would not require Weisselberg to testify or cooperate in any way with an ongoing criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices.
Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, is also charged in the case but does not appear to be involved in the plea deal talks. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment. A message seeking comment was left with an attorney for the Trump Organization.
News of Weisselberg’s plea negotiations came days after the judge denied requests from his attorneys and the Trump Organization to dismiss the case.
Weisselberg, who turned 75 on Monday, is the only Trump leader charged in the years-long criminal investigation opened by Cyrus Vance Jr, the former Manhattan District Attorney, who traveled to the Supreme Court to secure Trump’s tax records. Vance’s successor, Alvin Bragg, is now overseeing the investigation.
Prosecutors alleged that Weisselberg and the Trump Organization conspired to provide unofficial compensation to senior executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was charged with defrauding the federal government, state, and city out of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and unearned tax refunds.
The most serious charge against Weisselberg, grand larceny, carried a potential sentence of five to 15 years in prison. Tax evasion charges against the company carry a fine of double the amount of unpaid taxes, or $250,000, whichever is greater.
Trump was not charged in the criminal investigation, but prosecutors noted he signed some of the checks at the center of the case. Trump, who decried New York investigations as a “political witch hunt,” said his company’s actions were common practice in the real estate industry and in no way a crime.
Last week, Trump sat for deposition in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ parallel civil investigation into allegations that Trump’s company misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values. . Asset invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.