NEW YORK (AP) – An attorney for Donald Trump’s accused corporate finance chief told a judge on Monday he has “strong reason to believe” more indictments are coming up in the ongoing New York investigation into the former president’s real estate empire.
Lawyer Brian Scarlatos made the remarks during Trump Organization CFO Alan Weiselberg’s first court appearance on July 1 since his indictment on tax fraud charges. Scarlatos did not say what led him to believe more people would be charged.
In recent weeks, a pair of Trump Organization officials have testified in front of a grand jury in the case. Under New York law, grand jury witnesses are given immunity and cannot be charged with conduct for which they testify.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined comment.
“Mr. Weiselberg is different from the Trump Organization. He is the only person here whose freedom is at stake,” Scarlatos said. “I am concerned that that collateral will become damage in a major fight between the Trump Organization and the office of the DA.”
Scarlettos raised the issue of more potential indictments, while arguing for more time to review the 6 million pages of documents he said prosecutors are turning to evidence, calling it “a difficult task”. And saying the new indictments would create a “moving target”. “
Prosecutors said Weiselberg is “no stranger” to many documents because they contain business records of the Trump Organization that the executive produced or reviewed as part of his job.
Judge Juan Manuel Merchan gave both sides until the following spring to file motions and responses. He said he would decide on the motions during a hearing on July 12, 2022, the next time Wesselberg is due in court.
Merchan said he expected to set a trial date at that time and possibly set it for late August or early September next year.
“The reason I mention it now is because it’s on everyone’s radar,” Merchan said. “I don’t have an exact date yet.”
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Weiselberg has pleaded not guilty to charges that he collected more than $1.7 million in off-the-book compensation, including apartment rent, car payments and school tuition.
The case also accuses Trump’s company of what prosecutors have described as an “extensive and audacious” tax fraud scheme.
One of Trump’s officials granted immunity to testify before the grand jury is Matthew Calamari Jr., the company’s director of security. Prosecutors are looking at him and his father, Trump’s chief operating officer Matthew Calamari Sr., in an investigation into non-tax benefits.
A lawyer for Calamaris responded to Scarletos’ remarks, saying in a statement that he was not aware of any plans to impeach the elder Calamari.
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“We remain in discussions with the district attorney’s office concerning Matthew Calamari (Sr.), but continue to believe there is no basis for impeaching him,” said attorney Nicolas Gravente. “If they currently intend to accuse him, I would have been informed. I have not been and, in fact, have been informed to the contrary.”
In Monday’s brief hearing, Weiselberg sat quietly next to his lawyers and did not speak to reporters on his way to and from court. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone wore masks and there were clear plastic partitions in the courtroom between different parties.
Trump himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He has condemned the case, the first to stem from a two-year investigation by New York officials into the former president’s business dealings, which he called a “political witch hunt”.
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Trump has said that his company’s actions were standard practice in business and were not a crime in any way.
According to the indictment, from 2005 to this year, the Trump Organization and Weiselberg defrauded tax officials by conspiring to pay off the books to senior executives through lucrative fringe benefits and other means.
Weiselberg alone was accused of defrauding the federal government, state and city of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and unwanted tax refunds.
The most serious charge against Weiselberg, grand theft, carries between five and 15 years in prison. Tax fraud charges against the company are punishable by a fine of twice the amount of unpaid taxes or $250,000, whichever is greater.
Weiselberg’s attorneys, Scarlatos and Mary Mulligan, said in a statement after Monday’s hearing that the indictment is “full of unsupported and flawed factual and legal claims.”
“We look forward to challenging those claims in court,” the lawyers said.
Weiselberg, 74, has an in-depth knowledge of the Trump Organization’s financial dealings for nearly five decades at the company. The charges against him may pressure prosecutors to cooperate with the investigation and tell them what he knows, but so far there have been no signs of it.
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The case is being led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats.
The Trump Organization is the entity through which the former president manages many of his ventures, including his investments in office towers, hotels and golf courses, his many marketing deals, and his TV business.
According to the indictment, Weiselberg paid rent on his Manhattan apartment with company checks and directed the company to pay for his utility bills and parking as well.
The company also paid for private school tuition for Weiselberg’s grandchildren, along with Trump-signed checks for Mercedes cars driven by Weiselberg and his wife, and gave them cash to suggest around Christmas.
Prosecutors said such allowances were listed as part of Weiselberg’s compensation in internal Trump Company documents, but were not included in his W-2 forms or otherwise reported, and the company valued them. But the taxes were not withheld, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Trump’s company issued checks, at Weiselberg’s request, to pay for personal expenses and upgrades to their homes and apartments used by one of their sons, such as new bedding, flat-screen TVs, carpets and furniture. issued.
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