a lawyer for trump The organization’s chief financial officer, Alan Weiselberg, has said he believes more prosecutions are underway.
Brian Scarlatos, the attorney representing former President Donald Trump’s corporate finance boss, told a judge on Monday he has “strong reason to believe” that more indictments are coming into the ongoing investigation into Mr Trump’s business.
Mr Scarlatos admitted during Mr Weiselberg’s first appearance in court since he was indicted on tax fraud charges on 1 July, but the lawyer did not explain why he expected further indictment.
Two Trump Organization officials have testified before a grand jury in recent weeks. The jury is meeting behind closed doors to hear testimony and consider the evidence.
“Mr. Weiselberg is separate from the Trump Organization. He is the only person here whose independence is at stake,” Mr. Scarletos said. “I am concerned that he will become collateral damage in a major fight between the Trump Organization and [District Attorney’s] The Office.”
Mr Scarlatos mentioned the possibility of further legal action when he was arguing that the defense team should be given more time to review the six million pages of documents he said prosecutors are handing over as evidence. He said the review process was “a daunting task” and that new indictments would produce a “moving target”.
Prosecutors said Mr Weiselberg was “no stranger” to many of the documents because they contain business records that are likely to be either submitted or reviewed in his job as CFO of the Trump Organization.
Judge Juan Manuel Merchan gave both the prosecution and defense until next spring to file motions in the case and said he would decide on the motions on 12 July 2022, the next date for Mr Weiselberg to appear in court.
Judge Merchan said he would also announce a trial date at that time and that it would likely be set for late August or early September 2022.
“The reason I mention it now is because it’s on everyone’s radar,” he said. “I don’t have an exact date yet.”
Mr Weiselberg has pleaded not guilty to charges that he was granted $1.7m in non-tax benefits such as apartment rent, school tuition and car payments.
Mr. Trump’s company is also accused along with Mr. Weiselberg. Prosecutors allege that he carried out an “extensive and audacious” tax fraud scheme over the course of 15 years.
Mr Weiselberg opted not to speak to reporters as he entered and exited the court on Monday and sat quietly next to his lawyer for the hearing.
In accordance with pandemic restrictions, everyone in the courtroom was wearing masks and plastic barriers separated the various legal teams.
Mr Trump has not been charged with the crime, but he has argued that the first case stemming from a two-year investigation by New York state officials into his business is a “political witch hunt”. The former president has instead claimed that the way the Trump Organization conducted itself was common practice in the business world.
The indictment says that from 2005 to this year, the Trump Organization and Mr. Weiselberg evaded tax liabilities by providing luxury benefits to senior company executives through bookkeeping as well as other measures.
Mr. Weiselberg was accused of evading $900,000 in taxes and tax refunds for which he was ineligible. Grand larceny is the strongest charge against Mr Weiselberg and can carry between five and 15 years in prison.
The company could face fines that double the amount of unpaid taxes or $250,000, whichever is greater.
Mr Weiselberg, 74, has worked for the Trump family since 1973, and began working for Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump. After nearly 50 years with Trump, Mr. Weiselberg knows where any financial body might be buried and the case against him can help prosecutors talk to him and reveal what he knows. So far, there is no sign that the 74-year-old is coming forward with prosecutors.
On the government side, the case is presided over by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James. They are both Democrats.
The former president has used the Trump Organization to handle real estate investments such as office towers, hotels and golf courses, as well as his marketing and TV deals.
When he was elected president in 2016, Mr Trump put his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. in charge of the organization.
The indictment says Mr Weiselberg used company funds to pay for his apartment, as well as parking and utility payments. Private school tuition for Mr Weiselberg’s grandchildren was also paid for by the company, using a check signed by Mr Trump. Mercedes cars driven by the CFO and his wife were also paid for by the Trump Organization.
Prosecutors have said such allowances could be seen on internal documents as part of Mr Weiselberg’s compensation, but were not included in his W-2 forms and were not reported elsewhere. Prosecutors allege that the company did not pay taxes on the value of these profits.
Prosecutors have also said that the company issued checks, at the request of Mr. Weiselberg, to pay for home upgrades for both the CFO and one of his sons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Allen Weisselberg