Manhattan Judge Sets Autumn Trial Date for NYAG James’ Fraud Case Against Trump Org - The Jewish Voice
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Manhattan Judge Sets Autumn Trial Date for NYAG James’ Fraud Case Against Trump Org

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Manhattan Judge Sets Autumn Trial Date for NYAG James’ Fraud Case Against Trump Org

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As former President Donald Trump continues to find himself immersed in several legal imbroglios, the New York Post recently reported that a trial date has been set for next fall in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ sweeping $250 million lawsuit accusing Donald Trump and his family real estate company of “staggering” fraud.

The Post reported that on Tuesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron  scheduled the trial for October 2, 2023, in the case alleging that the Trump Organization’s assets were exaggerated for years for loan, insurance and tax purposes.

In September of this year, James filed the suit against the nation’s 45th president as well as his adult children, Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr and the Trump Organization which includes former longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. Last week, Weisselberg testified as the star prosecution witness in a criminal tax fraud case against the company, the Post reported.

In order to ensure that no “further fraud” takes place, Justice Engoron earlier this month ordered that an independent monitor be appointed to oversee the Trump Organization when it turns over its financial statements to the court as the attorney general’s case unfolds, the Post reported.

On Monday, the AP reported that prosecutors in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial rested their case earlier than expected, pinning hopes for convicting Donald Trump’s company largely on the word of two top executives who cut deals before testifying that they schemed to avoid taxes on company-paid perks.

The AP reported that Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney, a senior vice president and controller, testified for the bulk of the prosecution’s eight-day case, bringing the drama of their own admitted wrongdoing to a trial heavy on numbers, spreadsheets, tax returns and payroll records.

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty in August to dodging taxes on $1.7 million in extras, was required to testify as a prosecution witness as part of a plea deal in exchange for a promised sentence of five months in jail, the AP reported. McConney was granted immunity to testify.

The Trump Organization’s lawyers opened their defense by calling to the witness stand the accountant who handled tax returns and other financial matters for Trump, the Trump Organization and hundreds of Trump entities since the 1980s, as was reported by the AP.

The AP reported that Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA LLP, said McConney would call him “numerous times” a week about various tax issues and that he got emails from Weisselberg so often, he even made time to respond while away in the mountains or vacationing in Paris.

Bender said he interacted with far less frequently with Trump, his biggest client — attending his 2005 wedding, but otherwise talking to him maybe a couple times a year.

Once Trump became president in 2017, Bender said he’d visit him twice a year at the White House so he could sign his tax extensions and returns — but those trips ended when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the AP reported.

Trump blamed Bender and Mazars for the company’s troubles, writing on his Truth Social platform last week: “The highly paid accounting firm should have routinely picked these things up – we relied on them. VERY UNFAIR!”

The AP also reported that prosecutors had considered calling the accountant, even prepping him for six hours during a Zoom conference on Saturday, but decided to leave him for the defense. Bender’s testimony will continue Tuesday.

Prosecutors called just three other witnesses: the Trump Organization’s accounts payable supervisor, a forensic accountant for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and a state tax auditor who investigated Weisselberg’s taxes, the AP reported. The auditor was on the witness stand Monday.

Weisselberg, now a senior adviser at the company, testified last week that he conspired with McConney, his subordinate, to hide more than a decade’s worth of extras from his taxable income, but that neither Trump nor the family were involved, according to the AP report.

McConney testified that Weisselberg and another executive, Michael Calamari Sr., leaned on him over the years to fudge payroll records to hide extras such as Manhattan apartments and Mercedes-Benz cars from their taxable income, in part by reducing their salaries by the cost of those perks and issuing falsified W-2 forms.

The AP also reported that Manhattan prosecutors allege that the Trump Organization helped top executives avoid paying taxes on company-paid perks and that it is liable for Weisselberg’s wrongdoing because he was a “high managerial agent” acting on its behalf.

The tax fraud case is the only trial to arise from the Manhattan district attorney’s three-year investigation of Trump and his business practices. The AP reported that if convicted, the company could be fined more than $1 million and face difficulty making deals.

Bender’s firm, Mazars, cut ties with Trump in February and said annual financial statements it prepared for him “should no longer be relied upon” after New York Attorney General Letitia James said the statements regularly misstated the value of assets, according to the AP report.

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