During the Trump Organization’s opening debate on MondayIn Prosecutors portrayed the company’s former chief financial officer as a key player in the company’s plan to supplement its income with non-tax luxury benefits.
However, company lawyers said former CFO Alan Weiselberg – who in AugustCase in point – was acting on his own, driven by “individual personal greed”.
He said his actions hurt the Trump Organization, even though he was “like family to the Trump family.”
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged Weiselberg and company through two corporate entities — Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation — in 2021 with more than a dozen charges related to allegations that some executives were providing “indirect employee compensation” . In August, Weiselberg pleaded guilty in the case. The company maintains its innocence on all charges.
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger said in her opening statement that Weiselberg’s annual salary was $900,000, but with additional non-luxury perks and bonuses, that figure should have exceeded $1 million. Hoffinger said the alleged plan was a “win-win” for both executives and the company, which reportedly reduced its payroll liabilities.
Hoffinger said Weiselberg and other officials used a variety of methods to “hide” benefits from tax officials and took extra precautions after Trump was elected president.
“We all know that corporations are not people. They cannot think and act on their own. They operate through their highly managerial agents,” Hoffinger said.
Hoffinger said a key figure in the alleged effort was the company’s current controller, Jeffrey McConkey. The company has denied that any of its current executives have committed fraud or tax evasion.
But company attorneys Susan Nechels and Michael van der Veen said Weiselberg was actually hiding that he was not paying taxes on profits from the Trump Organization and the Trump family.
“He didn’t make any effort to find out whether he was benefiting or harming the Trump Corporation because he didn’t care,” Nechels said.
McConkey was the first witness called by Gov. to the stand on Monday. During interrogation he testified that his personal lawyer is paid by the Trump Organization, and he met on Sunday with the company’s criminal defense attorneys on other occasions.
Assistant District Attorney Joshua Stinglas then asked Judge Juan Merchan to rule McConkey an adverse witness, saying he “met with defendant’s lawyers while refusing to meet with us.” The judge declined, saying McConkey was not evading any questions.
Weiselberg is expected to be called as a witness during the trial. Wesselberg pleaded guilty in the case in August, and agreed to testify as part of his plea arrangement. He will be sentenced after the trial, which is expected to last six weeks.
The company’s effort to distance itself from its longtime former CFO comes after a rough week in which prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned dozens of potential jurors whether they could separate Trump from the Trump Organization in their minds. can. The former president is not personally accused in the case.
The jury was seated “faster than I expected,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who was in the audience taking notes with a pen and pad as the opening statement began Monday. He said the judges are “experienced and run an efficient courtroom.”
“Anything can happen during a test,” Bragg said.
Trump has said the allegation stemmed from a “witch hunt” and accused Bragg, and his predecessor, who launched the investigation, Cyrus Vance out of political animosity.