By: Ellen Cans
On Friday, Allen Weisselberg seemed to be visibly conflicted in his allegiance to his long-time boss and his adherence to the plea deal, which made him testify against Trump Organization, as per CNN.
Weisselberg, 75, served as Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization from 2000, and was named co-trustee of a trust set up in 2017 by Donald Trump before becoming President of the United States. While on trial on Friday morning, Weisselberg was grilled by attorney Susan Necheles who openly noted that he could go to jail if he fails to meet this part of the plea deal. “What is in my mind is to tell the truth at this trial,” Weisselberg responded, after being questioned about his motives on the stand. Weisselberg has unwittingly become the government’s star witness in the tax fraud case in Manhattan Supreme Court against Trump Org.
As reported by the NY Post, during the three-day testimony, Weisselberg was questioned as to the reaction of Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., when they learned that he and two other top execs didn’t report some perks and bonuses received on their tax reports. Weisselberg said that the sons learned of his tax cheating during a “cleanup process” which the company took on with tax auditors when Mr. Trump became president. On Friday, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked the CFO if the Trump Org had demoted or berated him when they found out. He replied, No. “Were you in fact given a raise … that totaled approximately $200,000?” Hoffinger asked. “Correct,” Weisselberg replied. Still, as per CNN, Weisselberg had separated Mr. Trump from the dealings, saying the sons were dealing in the company while he served as president. “Once he was in the White House we had very little communication about things going on in the company,” Weisselberg testified.
In August, Weisselberg pleaded guilty to getting some $1.7 million in “off the books” perks from the company — including luxury cars, school tuition payments for his grandchildren, and rental payments on an Upper West Side apartment. Weisselberg had been employed by the Trump family, starting with Fred Trump, since 1973. In 2018, Weisselberg was subpoenaed to testify in the federal case against Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer. In 2021, then Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Investigated him. He was charged with 15 felony counts for evading $344,745 in taxes over 15 years. He initially pleaded not guilty, but in August 2022, changed his plea. As part of the guilty plea deal, he agreed to come on trial to testify against The Trump Organization and to pay “almost $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties and waive any right to appeal.”
Weisselberg told the jury that he is currently on paid leave at the company, and is still being paid more than $1 million in salary and bonus this year. “It was my own personal greed that led to this case,” he said choking up on trial on Thursday. “It was a benefit to the company but primarily it was due to my greed,” Weisselberg said. He added, that he and Jeff McConney, Trump Org’s controller, never calculated or spoke specifically about how much the company would save as a result of their under reported income. “It was understood that by having less payroll you have less payroll taxes,” he noted. Trump Org lawyers counter that the company was not aware of the scheme. Defense attorney Alan Futerfas also tried to show that the benefit to Trump Org was minimal, especially compared to overall expenses.