Two companies under the umbrella of the Trump Organization, the eponymous company owned by former President Donald Trump, have been found guilty of multiple charges of fraud relating to executives’ scheme to avoid paying taxes by providing untaxed, high-end benefits to employees in lieu of compensation.
A Manhattan jury found the two smaller companies, Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp., guilty of all 17 counts of tax fraud that prosecutors had brought forward. The companies had been accused of providing employees with expensive apartments, cars, and other benefits (including cable television and school tuition for children) instead of actual payments, a move that allowed them to avoid paying taxes on compensation for Trump Organization workers.
The guilty verdict won’t affect Trump or his family members directly — any punishments that are doled out after the verdict will affect the Trump Organization, which could face up to $1.61 million in fines. But the verdict is an embarrassing outcome for the former president, who in the past has suggested that his profile as a businessman rendered him qualified to run the country and who announced last month that he’d be running for president again in the 2024 election cycle.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg celebrated the ruling, saying on Tuesday night that the case highlighted the “inner workings of the Trump Organization,” including “the greed, the lies [and] the cheating.”
Some legal experts have suggested that Bragg didn’t go far enough, and that his charges against the Trump Organization should have included accusations against Trump himself.
“In light of the verdict in Manhattan, there will be a lot of second guessing the decision Alvin Bragg made to indict the organization, but not Trump, especially since prosecutors argued in closing that Trump knew,” former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said on Twitter.
Although Tuesday’s verdict won’t affect Trump directly, the outcome of the case will likely “embolden” Bragg in a separate, ongoing criminal investigation into Trump, The New York Times reported, which focuses on his actions as a business owner and his hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump faces myriad other investigations that could interfere with his presidential bid next year — including federal investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) into his attempts to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss and into his improper transfer of thousands of government documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida following his departure from office.
Unlike the Trump Organization trial that concluded this week, those inquiries and others involve Trump directly, and could result in significant prison time for the former president if he’s found guilty.
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