Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg flipped for prosecutors after he became spooked by the Mar-a-Lago raid and January 6 hearings, fearing he may receive years in jail if he failed to beat tax evasion allegations, a friend claims.
Weisselberg is said to have grown increasingly fearful that multiple pronged probes into the former president could ultimately lead to criminal charges, and wanted to get ahead of any indictments, according to a source who spoke to Bloomberg.
He is also said to have been fearful that there was little chance of him facing an unbiased jury were he to be charged in his native Manhattan, and could have spent up to 15 years behind bars if convicted of the charges he faced.
About one month before his indictment, prosecutors suggested that if he did not cooperate, one of his son’s might also face charges that could land them in jail – with him possibly facing additional charges himself.
But now, having agreed to testify in an upcoming trial of the former president’s company, he will probably serve no more than 100 days.
Weisselberg, 75, took the deal on Thursday, pleading guilty to 15 counts, including tax fraud and larceny.
Trump Organization’s former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, second from right, sits with his attorneys, including Mary Mulligan, in a New York courtroom, on Thursday
The Trump Organization seemed to have no hard feelings, calling Weisselberg a ‘fine and honorable man’ who has been ‘harassed, persecuted and threatened by law enforcement’
In recent weeks, Weisselberg who had been fighting the charges for more than a year became concerned he may not receive a fair trial in front of a Manhattan jury, according to Bloomberg.
Despite preparing for a possible trial for months things moved quickly in the past couple of weeks after Wiesselberg’s confidence was suddenly shaken following the January 6 hearings and then the raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.
Days later, the president took the Fifth invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination in a civil deposition by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
A judge threw out Weisselberg’s request for the charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney to be dismissed.
A new round of discussions then began with prosecutors who had been pushing for a 15-year jail term.
Allen Howard Weisselberg, the former Trump Organization CFO, sits in New York State Supreme Court with his lawyers Nicholas Gravante and Mary Mulligan, as he pleads guilty
His confidence in beating the charges was shaken following the January 6 hearings and then the raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, pictured above
Instead, in exchange for a guilty plea on all 15 counts they suggested a far more lenient sentence of as little as 100 days on Rikers Island.
‘In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg decided to enter a plea of guilty today to put an end to this case and the years-long legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family,’ his attorney, Nicholas Gravante, said in a statement.
‘Rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days. We are glad to have this behind him.’
Weisselberg may potentially going be the star witness against the Trump Organization in a trial over what prosecutors say was a ‘sweeping and audacious’ scheme by the company to help top executives, including Weisselberg, avoid taxes on perks like luxury cars and rent-free apartments.
Among those perks: The Trump Organization paid the rent on his Upper West Side Manhattan apartment, covered private school tuition for his grandchildren, leased Mercedes-Benz cars for him and his wife, gave him cash to hand out as holiday tips and paid for flat-screen TVs, carpeting, and furniture for his winter home in Florida.
Trump Organization’s former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, center, leaves court, Thursday. Weisselberg pled guilty on Thursday to tax violations in a deal that would require him to testify about business practices at the former president’s company
The top executive at former President Donald Trump’s family business pleaded guilty Thursday to evading taxes on a free apartment and other perks, striking a deal with prosecutors that could make him a star witness against the company at a trial this fall
Weisselberg´s son also didn’t have to pay rent, or paid a below-market rent, while living in Trump-owned apartments.
All the perks were counted as part of his $940,000 salary.
But federal authorities said Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, failed to pay taxes on what has been calculated to be more than $1.7 million worth of compensation.
Weisselberg has now also admitted to receiving about $1.76 million in unreported income and has agreed to pay nearly $2 million in back taxes, penalties and interest.
In the words of Weisselberg’s lawyer, it was time to put an end to the yearslong ‘legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family.’
If he isn’t truthful, the entire deal for a shorter jail term will be voided.
The Trump Organization seemed to have no hard feelings, calling Weisselberg a ‘fine and honorable man’ who has been ‘harassed, persecuted and threatened by law enforcement.’
Weisselberg’s narrow plea deal will get him 100 days in jail in exchange for testifying in October for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office
‘Mr. Weisselberg, who just turned 75, in an effort to put this matter behind him and get on with his life, decided that the best course of action — for himself and his family — was to plead guilty.’
The Trump Organization ‘will not be taking a plea for the simple reason that they have done nothing wrong,’ the statement contineed.
‘As a result, we now look forward to having our day in court, which, quite interestingly, has been scheduled for October 24 — just days before the mid-term elections.’
A judge has agreed to sentence Weisselberg to five months at New York’s infamous Rikers Island jail complex.
With good behavior, he’ll be eligible for release after little more than three months. He’ll also have to pay nearly $2 million and spend five years on probation.
Crucially, though, he must testify truthfully when the Trump Organization goes on trial in October. Weisselberg won’t be formally sentenced until after the trial. Until then, he remains free on bail.
In its statement, the company said it had done nothing wrong and would ‘look forward to having our day in court.’
Allen Weisselberg, right, stands behind then President-elect Donald Trump during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, in January 2017
Both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, maintaining that the perks were standard for companies and the investigation was politically motivated. Weisselberg’s agreement to testify, though, could substantially harm the company’s defense.
That could increase pressure for it to resolve the case without a trial.
As for Trump himself, although the former president isn’t charged in the case, if his company is convicted of a crime, it could lead to steep fines or complicate future business deals.
A trial starting in October, right before the midterm elections, could also produce new revelations about the company’s business practices – although Trump’s supporters might not care.
He’s said the entire case is being cooked up by Democrats to damage him politically.
Prosecutors have not alleged any personal misconduct by Trump.