Allen Weisselberg is the only member of the Trump Organization to take the fall—so far, at least. The chief financial officer of former President Donald Trump’s family business is expected to enter a guilty plea to tax evasion Thursday, according to reporting from the Associated Press (AP).
Weisselberg, 75, is accused of taking more than $1.7 million in off-the-books payments to himself for rent, several leased Mercedes-Benzes, school tuition for his grandchildren, and more. He is likely to accept a plea deal and faces both a fine and possible jail time.
Nicholas Gravante, Jr., Weisselberg’s attorney, confirmed to The New York Times that his client has been in plea negotiations, but did not offer any details.
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Thursday, Weisselberg plead guilty to 15 counts of the indictment.
He’s agreed to five months in jail and five years probation and has agreed to testify in the trial against the Trump Organization.
Two unnamed AP sources say that Weisselberg could be sentenced to five months in jail, but the plea deal would not require him to testify or cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the business practices of Donald Trump. The Times reports he could likely only spend about 100 days behind bars, between time served and good behavior.
Allegations against Weisselberg and Trump Org include payouts to executives over 15 years of operations, but only Weisselberg was accused of bilking the state, city, and the federal government of unpaid and underserved taxes—to the tune of over $900,000.
Although former president and current Florida resident Donald Trump, who has called the investigation into his charitable organization’s financial dealings a “political witch hunt,” has not been charged criminally in this case, prosecutors highlight that his name was on many of the checks.
Prosecutors have tried to both pressure and coax Weisselberg into testifying against Trump and his company, but he has refused to meet with them and instead opted to take the guilty plea and possible jail time—leaving the Trump Org to face the tax case on their own.
In February, Weisselberg and Trump Org requested to have the tax evasion charges dismissed, but last Friday, a Manhattan state court judge refused the request, clearing the way for a trial, the Times reports.
Last week, Trump testified before the New York Attorney General’s office. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination under oath more than 400 times.
“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice,” Trump wrote in a public statement on Aug. 10.
The criminal case by the Manhattan district attorney’s office against Trump and Trump Org has been long in the works, but is not on a smooth path to trial.
The investigation was initially launched by former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., who passed the case to Alvin Bragg when he took office in January.
Things began to grind to a halt, AP reports, when the grand jury was disbanded and when another top prosecutor, Mark F. Pomerantz, who had been investigating Trump, left the office after Bragg ended efforts to seek an indictment, the Times reports.
“The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes—he did,” Pomerantz wrote in a letter obtained by the Times.
Bragg has said he was worried about being able to prove Trump had intent when he broke the law.
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