Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, surrendered to authorities on Thursday morning, following reports that the company and he himself were set to be formally charged with tax-related crimes.
Weisselberg, who has worked for former President Donald Trump’s company for nearly 50 years, will likely be charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for receiving benefits from the Trump Organization, including rent-free apartments and cars, among other perks, without reporting them on his tax returns.
“Mr. Weisselberg intends to plead not guilty and he will fight these charges in court,” Weisselberg’s lawyers Mary Mulligan and Bryan Skarlatos said.
Trump isn’t expected to be charged this week for any criminal actions. But according to his lawyer Ronald Fischetti, the investigation into his company, which began three years ago, is ongoing, which means anyone tied to it, including many of Trump family members, could face charges further down the road.
“This will be their first blow,” Fischetti said of Weisselberg’s pending charges.
The penalties against the Trump Organization could include “a fine and being placed under court-ordered supervision” while the company fixes its business and employee practices, The Wall Street Journal reported. Weisselberg could face a year in jail for his actions, if they are considered low-level crimes.
Prosecutors had attempted to get Weisselberg to cooperate with the investigation, and his arrest will certainly place additional pressure on him to do so.
In a statement on Weisselberg’s charges, the Trump Organization said that the CFO “is now being used by the Manhattan District Attorney as a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former President.” The company further claimed that “neither the IRS nor any other District Attorney would ever think of bringing” these charges forward.
“This is not justice; this is politics,” the Trump Organization maintained.
Criminal charges against any member of the company will likely hurt the former president’s political future. The evasion of taxes by its executives could cause some who voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 to look at him and his business as playing by a different set of rules in the corporate world.
Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio, reacting to the news of the pending indictments on Thursday morning, said on CNN Thursday that Weisselberg’s charges have likely caused a bit of worry for members of the Trump family.
“It’s almost as if they are personally under physical attack,” D’Antonio said. “And I think their greatest fear they have is that this process is going to unravel and reveal all of the methods that they have used over the years to gain and game the system.”
The head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently estimated that tax evasion costs the U.S. upwards of $1 trillion every year — revenue that could be used to substantially fund the Green New Deal, Medicare for All or the more substantial infrastructure proposal first offered by President Joe Biden.