Opening statements in the NY state criminal trial against the Trump Organization began on Monday as the Manhattan DA's office laid out a tale of corruption, greed, and fraud in Donald Trump's real estate business over 15 years.
New York prosecutors set the table for the criminal tax fraud trial against the Trump Organization Monday, telling jurors the case is about “greed and cheating.”
Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger laid out an alleged 15-year scheme within the Trump Org. to pay high-level executives in perks like luxury cars and apartments without paying taxes on them.
Two Trump Organization entities are charged with nine counts of tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records in what prosecutors allege was a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation provided to employees.
The scheme, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, was orchestrated by the company’s long-time Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, the top executive handling the books of the company. Prosecutors allege the companies benefited from the scheme by paying less taxes on the employee salaries while keeping their longtime employees happy.
“At the end of the day, keeping the trusted CFO happy by paying him more without him being taxed on that income, that was also a benefit to these companies,” Hoffinger said during her opening statement.
The jury will see portions of former President Donald Trump’s personal ledger and the checks he signed from his personal account to pay school tuition for Weisselberg’s grandchildren for years, the prosecutor said.
Trump is not a defendant in the case and is not expected to be implicated in any wrongdoing, but the charges against the real estate business he built from the ground up are the closest any prosecutor has gotten to Trump, and the political ramifications of the case has irritated the former president, people familiar with the matter say.
“Donald Trump didn’t know that Allen Weisselberg was cheating on Allen Weisselberg’s personal tax returns. The evidence will be crystal clear on that,” defense attorney Susan Necheles said.
She also cautioned the jurors to leave their political views out of their deliberations.
“You must not consider this case to be a referendum on President Trump or his policies. That type of thing has no place in our criminal justice system,” Necheles said.
On one hand, the case against the Trump organization is going to be pretty strong. On the other, it will only take one Trump voter on the jury to deadlock deliberations leading into a mistrial, which I expect will happen.
It's possible that there may be convictions for some of Trump's real estate fraudsters, but the reality is I expect a mistrial to be declared later this year, and you should too.