This is the first criminal case against the company of former President Donald Trump, a case he has ridiculed as a political lawsuit.
The gist of the alleged scheme is that the company granted employee benefits, or perks, to executives, including Weisselberg, as part of their income, but failed to pay the required payroll taxes on those benefits.
During this time, the beneficiaries of the benefits did not declare them as income and therefore did not pay income tax.
Weisselberg would have received a wide range of benefits
In addition to his direct compensation from the company, Weisselberg received rent for an Upper West Side apartment, charges and garage fees paid by the Trump Organization, according to the indictment. He and his wife each received a rented Mercedes-Benz. He received nearly $ 30,000 in cash over a six-year period to pay for personal tips for the vacation. He received new beds, flat-screen TVs, carpeting, and furniture for his Florida home.
Trump himself has not been charged, but he is referenced
According to the indictment, Weisselberg received benefits, including $ 359,058 in tuition payments for Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School for two of his grandchildren. These payments were made by checks from Donald Trump’s account signed by Trump himself, and later from the Donald J. Trump revocable trust, according to the indictment.
Payments for Weisselberg’s grandchildren were “indirect compensation” and were not included on Weisselberg’s W-2 forms, and no income tax was withheld by the Trump Organization or Trump Payroll Corp. in connection with the payment of tuition fees.
No other person was charged on Thursday
The Trump Organization, an entity called Trump Payroll Corp. and Weisselberg were indicted Thursday – 10 counts against the companies and 15 against Weisselberg. But no other person has been charged in connection with the public prosecutor’s investigation. The charges refer to an unindicted co-conspirator, whom the indictment describes as someone who helped Weisselberg evade taxes.
“From at least 2005 to the date of this indictment, the named defendants and others, including the unaccused co-conspirator # 1, agreed to and implemented a compensation scheme for the purpose of to allow Weisselberg to under-report his income to the federal authorities, and thus to evade taxes and falsely claim federal tax refunds to which he was not entitled, ”states the indictment.
A person familiar with the investigation told CNN that the unindicted co-conspirator is Jeff McConney, the longtime controller of the Trump Organization.
The investigation is not over
The Manhattan district attorney’s office said the investigation was ongoing.
Much of the indictment focuses on Weisselberg, whom cooperation prosecutors have spent months trying – and failing – to obtain. Weisselberg pleaded not guilty on Thursday, but if he changed his mind and decided to help prosecutors, they could use his testimony and evidence to prosecute others.
Additionally, prosecutors have explored a wide range of topics over the course of their more than two years of investigation, and they may add additional charges in the future in what is known as a stand-in indictment.
CNN’s Sonia Moghe and Kara Scannell contributed to this report.
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