- Allen Weisselberg, longtime CFO of the Trump Organization, made his first public court appearance at his New York State Supreme Court hearing on Monday.
- The Manhattan district attorney’s office, led by Cyrus Vance, Jr., and the office of the New York Attorney General Letitia James, in July indicted Weisselberg and the Trump Organization. Weisselberg faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted of second-degree grand larceny, his most serious charge. He was also charged with scheme to defraud, conspiracy and four counts of criminal tax fraud.
- At the hearing, Weisselberg’s lawyer, Bryan Skarlatos, asked Judge Juan Merchan for more time to file a pre-trial motion, citing “millions of pages” of documents he needed to review to prepare his defense, and his belief that more charges are coming.
“We have strong reasons to believe there could be other indictments coming,” Skarlatos told Justice Merchan, according to the Washington Post. “We are shooting at a moving target.”
Merchan granted Weisselberg’s counsel an extension until January 20, 2022, and set a potential trial date of late August or early September 2022. The next public court date will be in July 2022.
The prosecution has alleged that, as part of a several years-long scheme, The Trump Organization, under Weisselberg’s leadership, gave employees, including Weisselberg himself, fringe benefits that should have been reported as income but weren’t.
To pay for the New York City apartment Weisselberg used as his principal residence, for example, the company cut rental, utility and other related monthly checks, but instead of booking the payments on its general ledger as employee compensation, the company labeled and deducted them as rent expenses, CFO Dive reported in July.
“The indirect compensation was not included on Weisselberg’s W-2 forms or otherwise reported to federal, state, or local tax authorities, and no income taxes were withheld by the corporate defendants in connection with the indirect compensation,” the indictment said.
“[Weisselberg] is the only individual here today whose liberty is at stake,” Skarlatos said, the Wall Street Journal reported. “What I’m concerned about is he becomes collateral damage as part of a bigger fight between the Trump Organization and the district attorney’s office.”
But Weisselberg presided over the organization’s finances while it conducted the scheme, Assistant District Attorney Solomon Shinerock argued in response, with full knowledge of its practices. Weisselberg is the most senior Trump Organization executive that’s not a member of the family.
“With respect to the relevant financial documents, Mr. Weisselberg is the boss,” Shinerock said, according to Business Insider. “He is not collateral damage here. He is an executive. He has been indicted by the grand jury."
“Just to say ‘He’s the money man’ actually underestimates his role,” Tristan Snell, who headed the New York attorney general’s fraud investigation of Trump University, told the Washington Post earlier this summer. “Weisselberg really ran the whole company.”
While former President Donald Trump has not been charged in the case, his signature appears on many of the allegedly illegal compensation checks, per the DA’s investigation.
Both Trump himself and Ron Fischetti, one of his lawyers, have said the case is a politically motivated smear campaign; Trump called it a “witch hunt” and a “fishing expedition."