Allen Weisselberg Refuses to Testify Against Trump in Plea Deal
Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer (CFO) of the Trump Organization, Donald Trump’s business empire, is expected to reach a plea deal with prosecutors in a tax fraud case that does not require him to testify against the former president.
Weisselberg and the Trump Organization pleaded not guilty last year when indicted by the Manhattan district attorney in a joint local and state investigation that accused them of not reporting tax liabilities for employee fringe benefits for several years.
The relatively minor allegations were anticlimactic, given the public determination of elected Democratic prosecutors to pursue Trump for whatever crime they could find. Trump himself was not accused of breaking the law, but prosecutors hoped to turn Weisselberg against Trump by pressuring him to testify against his former boss in other investigations.
That effort appears to have failed, with Weisselberg refusing to cooperate, and prosecutors reportedly considering a plea deal that could see the septuagenarian executive sentenced to as little as five months in jail, and eligible for early release after about 100 days.
The New York Times reported on Monday:
A senior executive at Donald J. Trump’s family business who was charged with participating in a yearslong tax scheme is nearing a deal with Manhattan prosecutors but will not cooperate with a broader investigation into Mr. Trump, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
While Mr. Weisselberg, 75, is facing financial penalties as well as up to 15 years in prison if convicted by a jury, a plea deal would avoid a high-profile trial and spare him a lengthy sentence. Two people with knowledge of the matter said that Mr. Weisselberg was expected to receive a five-month jail term. With time credited for good behavior, he is likely to serve about 100 days.
Prosecutors have long hoped that they could persuade Mr. Weisselberg to testify against Mr. Trump, given his decades in the employ of the Trump family and his vast knowledge of the company and its business practices. But Mr. Weisselberg has refused to meet with them even as his lawyers negotiated a potential deal, the people with knowledge of the matter said.
The Trump Organization itself will not plead guilty to any charges, and the investigation will not reach members of the Trump family.
Prosecutors and critics of Trump likely hope that the mere fact that they will be able to refer to a Trump executive as a “felon” will be enough to besmirch the former president — one of the unstated goals of the unusual prosecution of a company for underreporting fringe benefits for employees, a practice that is not uncommon among other large American companies.
The news of a potential plea deal adds fuel to the controversy over a recent FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.