The Trump Organization has been fined $2.3 million for tax fraud

The Trump Organization and its growth into a real estate, hospitality, branding and golf resort giant catapulted Trump to fame and eventual politics. It helped him get a national stage during NBC’s prime time apprentice and celebrity apprentice Productions both filmed primarily at their headquarters in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Donald Trump with CFO Allen Weisselberg, center, and son Donald Jr. in 2017.

Donald Trump with CFO Allen Weisselberg, center, and son Donald Jr. in 2017.Credit:AP

On December 6, after a trial that lasted more than a month, a New York Supreme Court jury found the Trump Organization guilty on charges of fraud scheme, conspiracy, criminal tax evasion and falsifying business records. Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp, which operate under the same umbrella, have been convicted on 17 counts. Trump was not charged in the case.

The tax case had already yielded a guilty plea and five months in prison for longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg, 75, who was the key witness against the company. He pleaded guilty to 15 felonies in August and agreed to testify in exchange for a significantly reduced sentence and five years’ probation, which was handed down in court on Tuesday. He also paid the state more than $2 million in back taxes, fines, and interest. He faced up to 15 years in prison.

Weisselberg admitted to orchestrating a longstanding string of illegal practices benefiting himself, other executives and his employer, and personally avoiding taxes on $1.7 million in unreported earnings.

Weisselberg’s perks included a premium Manhattan apartment, Mercedes-Benz vehicles the company issued for himself and his wife, and $200,000 a year in private school tuition for his grandchildren. He accepted the expenses as gifts for at least a decade, beginning in 2005, and later began reimbursing them to the company — but still got ahead because it allowed him to use pre-tax funds for personal expenses.

According to court testimony, the Trump Organization began eliminating the illegal practices around 2017, when Trump took office and as a tax attorney was conducting an internal audit at the company. After those fixes were made, Weisselberg said he requested and received a raise to compensate for expenses he had to pay himself.


The company saved about $25,000 in tax liabilities for Medicare employers as a result of fraud and also saved on payroll costs by paying its executives less, prosecutors argued during the trial.

Weisselberg told the jury that he only worked with one other executive, Comptroller Jeffrey McConney, to variously defraud taxes related to executive pay. Blaming himself for the crimes, Weisselberg said it was his “personal greed that led to it” and claimed the Trump family was not involved in the plan.

Weisselberg also said that there is a long-standing Trump Organization practice of giving annual bonuses to executives of subsidiaries and classifying them as payments from unemployed contractors, which is illegal.

Defense attorney Nicholas Gravante jnr said after the trial that Weisselberg made his official exit from the company on Tuesday and is looking forward to a severance package. Gravante said he was not involved in the severance talks. Weisselberg was on the payroll during the trial.

Trump Organization spokeswoman Kimberly Benza said in a statement that Weisselberg, the company and Trump were victims. She described the prosecutors as politically motivated.

“We have done nothing wrong and will appeal this verdict,” she said.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office obtained the Trump Organization’s conviction, still has an open investigation into Trump’s business practices and other matters.

In brief comments following the company’s conviction, Bragg said punishing the company was “not enough” and said state laws should provide for stiffer penalties for corporate tax fraud. He also said the conviction “closes this important chapter in our ongoing investigation into the former president and his businesses.”

“We’re going to the next chapter now,” he said.

The Washington Post The Trump Organization has been fined $2.3 million for tax fraud

Callan Tansill

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