Two Trump Organization companies were ordered to pay a $1.6 million fine at sentencing Friday, after a jury last month unanimously found them guilty of 17 counts related to tax fraud. The fine imposed by Judge Juan Merchan was the maximum penalty allowed in the case — double the amount of the taxes avoided.
Executives at the two companies called the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation were found to have illegally reduced payroll liability through a variety of schemes, including giving executives untaxed bonuses and high-end perks worth millions.
The company’s longtime former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, was sentenced Tuesday to five months in New York City’s Rikers Island jail. Weisselberg entered a guilty plea in August and testified against the company as part of a deal with prosecutors.
Former President Donald Trump was not charged in the case, but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said Trump remains under investigation.
At the sentencing hearing Friday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said the companies’ conduct “can only be described as egregious.” And he asserted, “A number of these actions were implicitly sanctioned from the top down.”
Defence attorney Susan Necheles reiterated that the companies will be appealing the conviction.”The D.A., as usual, or again, does not understand the tax law, and that was part of what was wrong in this case,” she said.
Weisselberg’s three days of testimony included detailed descriptions of several methods used by the company and its executives to skate on taxes. He also said that Trump and two of his children played a role by signing checks in some of the schemes, though he denied that they authorized or conspired in the fraud. Steinglass said during the trial that the evidence and Weisselberg’s testimony showed Trump “explicitly sanctioning tax fraud.”
Defence attorneys said Trump was unaware of the schemes playing out beneath him, while prosecutors said he signed off on them.
The Trump Organization’s lawyers said Trump and his company were “betrayed” by Weisselberg, saying repeatedly, “Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg.”
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