(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump called the criminal charges unsealed Thursday against his organization’s long-serving chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg a “disgrace” and “shameful,” telling ABC News he is a “tremendous man.”
Weisselberg and the Trump Organization pleaded not guilty in Manhattan State Supreme Court to 15 charges related to what the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office general counsel Carey Dunn called a “15-year-long tax fraud scheme.”
Weisselberg allegedly benefitted from the scheme to the tune of $1.7 million, Dunn said.
“During the operation of the scheme, the defendants arranged for Weisselberg to receive indirect employee compensation from the Trump Organization in the approximate amount of $1.76 million … in ways that enabled the corporate defendants to avoid reporting it to the tax authorities,” the indictment said.
Weisselberg arrived at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office with his lawyer hours after a grand jury on Wednesday voted to indict him and the Trump Organization on the charges, which include grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records.
A special grand jury in Manhattan voted Wednesday to indict Trump’s firm and its chief financial officer.
The indictment said that beginning in 2005, Weisselberg used the Trump corporation’s bank account to pay the rent for his apartment and his utility bills, and to cover nearly $360,000 in upscale private school payments for his family and nearly $200,000 in luxury car leases.
“Weisselberg intentionally caused the indirect compensation payments to be omitted from his personal tax returns, despite knowing that those payments represented taxable income and were treated as compensation by the Trump Corporation in internal records,” said the indictment.
“Allen Weisselberg is a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather who has worked at the Trump Organization for 48 years,” the Trump Organization said in a statement about the charges. “He is now being used by the Manhattan District Attorney as a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former President. The District Attorney is bringing a criminal prosecution involving employee benefits that neither the IRS nor any other District Attorney would ever think of bringing. This is not justice; this is politics.”
Trump has called the investigation a politically motivated “witch hunt,” and said that the Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James are pressuring Weisselberg to lie against him. When asked if he thought Weisselberg would cooperate, he told ABC News, “No.”
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