Manhattan prosecutors rested their case against the Trump Organization on Monday without calling their final witness — prompting renewed questions about whether the district attorney still sets her sights on Donald Trump.
Much of the DA’s case against the former president’s family real estate business, which ran for eight days over three weeks, focused on two of its senior executives. They were company comptroller Jeff McConkey and his convicted former boss, Chief Financial Officer Alan Weiselberg.
Weiselberg, 75 – the company’s veteran financial gatekeeper who pleaded guilty in August to the scheme at the heart of the case – told jurors he worked with McConkey to dodge taxes on lavish perks that Trump gave Weiselberg. Kept in his pocket for more than 15 years.
The alleged fringe benefits included $1.7 million in rent for an Upper West Side apartment overlooking the Hudson River, rent for his son Barry Weiselberg, more than $100,000 in parking garage fees, fancy furniture and other expensive expenses related to his job as CFO. were involved. Weiselberg said Trump personally paid for his grandchildren’s tuition at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School.
To hold the companies criminally liable, prosecutors must prove that Wesselberg committed tax fraud in his official capacity and that the company benefited from it. Weisselberg acknowledged both were true last week.
Trump Org attorneys have argued that the CFO was a bad apple who secretly committed crimes. The holding company and its subsidiary Trump Payroll Corporation have pleaded not guilty to multiple criminal tax fraud charges.
The trusted company man, whom Trump and his late father, Fred, put in charge of their finances for five decades, has never accused anyone in the family of criminal wrongdoing. Wesselberg testified for the prosecution in exchange for a reduced prison sentence and is expected to be sentenced to five months in prison as soon as possible under the terms of the plea deal.
Wesselberg, whose attorneys are paid for by the Trump Org, was demoted as senior adviser following his arrest. There was no change in his hefty salary and bonus.
McConkey admitted to helping Weiselberg and the company’s chief operating officer, Matthew Calamari, Sr., defrauded him on his taxes for years when he was working across the hall from Trump in his namesake tower on Fifth Avenue. The comptroller received immunity from testifying before the grand jury.
Among witnesses, prosecutors also called the accounts payable supervisor who cut the checks at Trump Tower, a forensic accountant from the DA’s office, and a state tax auditor. He declined to call Donald Bender from Mazar, the former Trump Organization accounting firm that Trump sought to indict for fraud.
The defense called Bender as a witness. He testified briefly about preparing the Trump Organization’s tax returns for more than 35 years and was expected to continue on the stand Tuesday.
The case stems from the DA’s three-year Trump investigation. The investigators who were initially handling it, Mark Pomerantz and Keri Dunn, abruptly resigned after DA Alvin Bragg took over the case from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance, Jr.
Pomerantz’s resignation letter, shared with The New York Times, cited Bragg’s “misguided” reluctance to let Trump step down. Bragg and his communications team have repeatedly pushed back on that narrative.
The Times reported Monday that the DA is now focusing on the initial focus of the investigation: a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter with Trump. , a liaison he denies. According to the report, Bragg is considering a new case against Wesselberg related to unrelated insurance fraud allegations in order to pressure him into sharing details of the hush-money payments.
Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, served three years in federal custody for the payoffs, which he said were done at the candidate’s direction. Weissenberg received federal immunity to testify against Cohen in that case.
In February, he tried to throw out the DA’s case against him because investigators had spent so much time talking to Cohen, whom the CFO argued was used to “retaliate” against him because of his cooperation. was.
The Daily News could not confirm whether the DA is considering new charges against Vesselberg. His attorney, Nick Gravante, declined to comment on the possibility of a new case.
Clark Brewster, Daniels’ attorney, said he had not heard from the Manhattan DA since the office told him to expect an interview request, which never came a year ago. Cohen said he had not spoken to Bragg or anyone in his office. DA spokeswoman Danielle Filson declined to comment.