Judge rules criminal case against Trump Organization and former CFO can proceed
A New York State judge ruled Friday that a criminal fraud and tax evasion prosecution against the Trump Organization and its former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, can proceed.
Weisselberg and the company asked a judge in February to dismiss all 15 counts charged against them. Judge Juan Merchan dismissed one of several tax fraud counts against the Trump Organization, but allowed all others to remain.
Attorneys for Weisselberg and the company did not immediately comment on Friday's decisions.
The Trump Organization and Weisselberg accused prosecutors working for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of targeting them "based on political animus" toward former President Donald Trump. Weisselberg also argued he had received immunity against certain federal charges when he testified to a federal grand jury investigating former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Jury selection will take place on Oct. 24.
Prosecutors said in a May 23 filing that the Weisselberg investigation was spurred by a Nov. 2, 2020 Bloomberg article about perks Weisselberg allegedly received.
"The article outlined many of the key facts relevant to the crimes charged," Manhattan prosecutor Solomon Shinerock wrote in May.
The Trump Organization was accused in July 2021 of providing executives with lavish untaxed perks, which prosecutors called "indirect employee compensation." Weisselberg, a 74-year-old who had been at Trump's side at the company for decades, was accused of receiving $1.7 million in perks — including an apartment and car.
Weisselberg and the company have entered not guilty pleas.
Merchan said that in September, he will hear arguments on a request by Weisselberg's team to suppress evidence from two Manhattan district attorney investigators who he said "struck up small talk" while Weisselberg was in custody. A statement attributed to Weisselberg from the conversation — in which he described the lengthy commute from his Long Island home — was included in court documents. Attorneys for Weisselberg, who is accused of moving into a New York City corporate apartment without paying taxes on the alleged perk, have argued he was essentially tricked into divulging information he might otherwise not have with a lawyer present.
In the motion to dismiss charges, they claimed the company and Weisselberg were "improperly targeted" due to politics. They highlighted statements made by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who has been critical of Trump, a Republican. Two attorneys from James' office are assigned to the Manhattan district attorney's investigation.
Trump sat for a court-ordered deposition on Wednesday in James' case, invoking the Fifth Amendment and then replying "same answer" hundreds of times during about four hours of questioning.
Trump's attorneys have said previously they were concerned that Trump's deposition could be turned over to Bragg. Attorneys for James' office, and a judge overseeing her probe, have said that her investigators are allowed to do that.
Weisselberg's lawyers also wrote in January that the charges against Weisselberg should be tossed because he received immunity against certain federal charges when he testified to a federal grand jury investigating former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Shinerock replied that no one on his team "has ever seen or been briefed on the contents of Weisselberg's testimony" against Cohen, but claimed the federal immunity does not apply to the state charges filed against Weisselberg.
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