NEW YORK (AP) – How Donald Trump’s eldest son – entrusted with running his company when he became president – reacted when he learned a top executive was planning to dodge taxes on lavish corporate perks ?
They outgrew him, according to testimony Friday at the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial.
The company’s longtime chief financial officer, Alan Wesselberg, testified that Eric Trump raised his salary by $200,000 after an internal audit prompted by Trump’s 2016 election found that he was covering his salary and bonuses from the cost of perks. were reducing
The increase raised Weissenberg’s annual salary to $1.14 million, extra cash he said he used to pay for things Trump and company used to do: Manhattan apartment rent, Mercedes-Benz cars for him and his wife, their Grandchildren’s school tuition, and more.
The company continues to pay Weiselberg a salary of $640,000 and a $500,000 holiday bonus and was given a nominal stipend following his arrest in July 2021, reassigning him to senior advisor and moving to his office in Trump Tower transferred. He is now on paid leave.
“Now, even after you were found guilty in this case, did the company reduce your salary by a penny?” Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Weiselberg on the third and final day of testimony.
“No,” he said.
“Even with the betrayal of their trust?” He asked.
Weiselberg testified that both Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, knew from the audit that Weiselberg did not report his apartment as taxable income, as required by law.
Wesselberg told jurors that he discontinued his plan after the audit and soon asked Eric Trump for a pay raise, telling him that “since the practice was no longer going, I needed some extra income to pay for those expenses.” will be needed.”
Weiselberg said Eric Trump, who handles day-to-day operations at the company, signed off on his raise and is now in line to approve his latest $500,000 holiday bonus — even though Weiselberg lives in New York City’s notorious Preparing to overhaul Rikers Island prison. Complex.
Wesselberg said other officers accused of conspiring to avoid taxes also kept their jobs and salaries. These include his son, former Central Park Ice Rink manager Barry Weiselberg, and the company’s chief operating officer, Matthew Calamari Sr.
Wesselberg, 75, pleaded guilty in August to taking $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation. His plea agreement requires him to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a five-month prison sentence. Vesselberg, who was facing up to 15 years in prison, said he had previously declined offers of one to three years in prison.
Manhattan prosecutors allege that the Trump Organization helped top executives avoid paying taxes on perks paid by the company and is liable for Weiselberg’s wrongdoings because he was a “high managerial agent” acting on its behalf. was working
The tax fraud case is the only trial arising from a three-year investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into Trump and his business practices. If convicted, the company could be fined more than $1 million and face difficulties in conducting deals.
Weiselberg’s testimony on Friday suggests that key Trump Organization officials — members of Trump’s family — condoned his behavior after discovering his behavior, instead of firing him and reporting him to authorities. Weiselberg said the plan benefited the company because it did not have to pay him as much in salary.
However, the company’s lawyers argue that Trump is overly loyal, emphasizing that Weiselberg was “among the most trustworthy people he knew” and how he stood by him even when he threatened to betray him. Accepted the matter. being paid by their lawyers. company.
Company attorney Alan Futerfas questioned Wesselberg on cross-examination, saying that even “at the worst time of your life” Trump “didn’t kick you to the curb.” But, the lawyer asked, “You don’t understand that this means you approve of what he did?”
“No,” said Weiselberg.
Trump, who announced Tuesday that he is running for president again in 2024, is not expected to appear at the trial. But he indicated Friday that he was defending Wesselberg and posting the prosecution’s version on his Truth social platform.
Trump wrote that the case had “fallen through” after Weiselberg testified Thursday that neither Trump nor Trump’s family were involved in his tax avoidance scheme.
“Has a longtime executive paid tax on the use of the company car, or the company apartment, or paid (not taken by us as a tax deduction!) for the education of his grandchild. For this he should be handcuffed and jailed Describing the situation, Trump wrote, “Very unfair!”
After Trump was elected president in November 2016, he invited renewed scrutiny of his Trump Organization, a privately held entity through which he and his family manage their golf courses, luxury towers and other investments.
Wesselberg said he and another company executive, Jeffrey McConkey, decided around that time that the company needed to end some of its questionable pay practices and financial arrangements. They brought in a Washington lawyer who conducted an audit and wrote a memo of his findings.
McConkey, Senior Vice President and Comptroller, helped Wesselberg falsify payroll records in order to reduce his income tax bill. He received immunity and testified earlier in the trial.
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