Trump executive pleads guilty in tax case, agrees to testify
NEW YORK (AP) :
A top executive of former President Donald Trump’s family business pleaded guilty on Thursday to evading taxes on a free apartment and other perks, striking a deal with prosecutors that could make him a star witness against the company at a trial this fall.
Allen Weisselberg, a senior Trump Organization adviser and formerly the company’s long-time chief financial officer, pleaded guilty to all 15 of the charges he faced in the case.
In a low, somewhat hoarse voice, Weisselberg admitted taking in over US$1.7 million worth of untaxed extras – including school tuition for his grandchildren, free rent for a Manhattan apartment and lease payments for a luxury car – and explicitly keeping some of the plums off the books.
Judge Juan Manuel Merchan agreed to sentence the 75-year-old executive to five months in New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex, although he will be eligible for release much earlier if he behaves behind bars. The judge said Weisselberg will have to pay nearly US$2 million in taxes, penalties and interest and complete five years of probation.
The plea bargain also requires Weisselberg to testify truthfully as a prosecution witness when the Trump Organization goes on trial in October on related charges. The company is accused of helping Weisselberg and other executives avoid income taxes by failing to report their full compensation accurately to the government. Trump himself is not charged in the case.