NEW YORK, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Donald Trump will learn on Friday how the company that bears the former U.S. president’s name will be punished after it was found guilty of schemes to defraud tax authorities over 15 years.
New York state judge to impose sentence after Manhattan jury finds two Trump Organization affiliates guilty of 17 criminal charges last month.
The sentence comes three days after Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Juan Murchan ordered Alan Weiselberg, who worked for the Trump family for half a century and was the company’s former chief financial officer, in prison for five months after testifying as the prosecution’s chief witness.
Trump’s company faces a maximum penalty of $1.6 million, but has said it plans to appeal. No one else has been charged or faces jail time in the case.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, which brought the case, is still conducting a criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices.
Bill Black, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas School of Law who specializes in white-collar crime, called the expected punishment a “rounding error” that offers “zero deterrence” to others, including Trump.
“It’s a farce,” he said. “No one will stop committing such crimes because of this sentence.
The case has long been a thorn in the side of the former Republican president, who calls it part of a witch hunt by Democrats who dislike him and his policies.
Trump also faces a $250 million civil suit by state Attorney General Letitia James, accusing him and his grown children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump of inflating his net worth and the value of his company’s assets to save money on loans and insurance.
Bragg and James are Democrats, as was Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance, who brought the criminal case. Trump is running for president in 2024 after losing his 2020 re-election bid.
During a four-week trial, prosecutors offered evidence that Trump’s company covered personal expenses such as rent and lease cars for executives without reporting them as income and pretended that Christmas bonuses were not employee compensation.
Trump himself signed off on bonus checks, prosecutors said, as well as the lease for Weissberg’s luxury Manhattan apartment and private school tuition for the CFO’s grandchildren.
“The whole narrative that Donald Trump was blissfully ignorant is just not true,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass told jurors in his closing argument.
Weisselberg’s testimony helped convict the company, although he said Trump was not part of the fraud scheme. He also refused to help Bragg in his broader investigation of Trump.
The Trump Organization has placed Weiselberg on paid leave until they cut ties this week. His lawyer said the split, announced Tuesday, was amicable.
75-year-old Weiselberg is serving his sentence at New York’s notorious Rikers Island prison.
State law limits the penalties Judge Murchan can impose on Trump’s company. A corporation can be fined up to $250,000 for each tax-related charge and $10,000 for each non-tax charge.
Trump faces several other legal issues, including investigations related to the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, the withholding of classified documents after leaving the White House and attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia.
Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stemple; edited by Jonathan Oatis
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