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Trump Org. fined $1.6 million after being convicted of 17 crimes, including tax fraud

Trump Org. fined $1.6 million after being convicted of 17 crimes, including tax fraud

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CNN

The Trump Organization was fined $1.6 million — the maximum penalty possible — by a New York judge on Friday for running a decade-long tax fraud scheme, a symbolic moment because it is the only criminal conviction that has come close to former President Donald Trump .

Two Trump organizations, The Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp., were convicted last month of 17 felonies, including tax fraud and falsifying business records.

Under New York law, the maximum fine companies can be fined is about $1.6 million, a penalty the Trump Organization can easily afford.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked Judge Juan Murchan to make Trump Org. paid the maximum fine, despite admitting it would have “minimal impact” on the billion-dollar company.

“We all know these corporations can’t go to jail like Alan Weiselberg,” Steinglass said Friday, referring to the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, who was sentenced to five months in prison earlier this week as part of the deal , which she achieved with prosecutors. “The only way to effectively deter such behavior is to make it as expensive as possible.”

New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Friday that the fine against the Trump Org. is important, but he also wants lawmakers to increase fines for companies that break the law.

“This conviction was,” Bragg said outside the courtroom Friday, “was a follow-up, the first time in history of a criminal conviction for former President Trump’s companies, and I would really go so far as to say it’s the first time for any former president certainly in my lifetime.”

But, Bragg added, a fine is not enough punishment.

“I want to be very clear – we do not think this is enough. Our laws in this state need to change to catch this type of systematic, egregious fraud that has been going on for a decade,” Bragg said.

Trump Org. entities have 14 days to pay the fine.

The real estate business is not in danger of collapse because there is no mechanism by law to close the company. No one will go to jail based on a jury verdict. However, a felony conviction could affect the Trump Organization’s reputation and ability to do business or receive loans or contracts.

Trump and his family were not charged in the case, but the former president was mentioned repeatedly during the trial by prosecutors for his connection to tax-free benefits doled out to certain executives, including company-financed apartments, car leases and personal expenses. One prosecutor said Trump had “expressly sanctioned” tax fraud.

One of jurors told CNN that jurors saw a “culture of deception” at the Trump Organization but referred to Trump as a nondescript “Bob Smith” at times when talking about the company owner’s knowledge of the crimes related to the allegations.

Weisselberg last year pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts related to the tax fraud scheme and agreed to testify honestly against the company at trial.

He remained on paid leave from the Trump Organization, where he was compensated just over $1 million a year, until Tuesday, when he was sentenced. Weisselberg received compensation that a person familiar with the deal called “generous.”

Murchan, who sentenced Weiselberg, said at the time that if not for the deal, he would have given Weiselberg more time in prison after hearing the evidence at trial.

Murchan said he found most “offensive” the $6,000 paycheck Weiselberg made his wife, who never worked for Trump, so she could qualify for Social Security.

Trump Organization. The spokesman said Weisselberg “was a victim,” as were the company and the former president.

“New York has become the crime and murder capital of the world, but these politically motivated prosecutors will stop at nothing to catch President Trump and continue the endless witch hunt that began the day he announced his presidency.” , the spokesman said. “We have done nothing wrong and we will appeal this sentence.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the company’s business practices.

Prosecutors are conducting a wide-ranging investigation, and in recent months their focus has shifted again to the company’s involvement in secret payments made to keep adult film star Stormy Daniels from going public with an affair with Trump just before the 2016 election, the report said. people familiar with the matter said. Trump has denied the affair.

Prosecutors are also looking into potential insurance fraud after new material came to light from the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into the accuracy of the Trump Organization’s financial statements, the people said.

The biggest threat facing the company right now may be New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil lawsuit alleging that Trump, his three oldest children, Weiselberg and others defrauded creditors , insurers and tax authorities, inflating the value of multiple Trump entities. properties for more than a decade.

In addition to the money, James, a Democrat, is seeking to permanently bar Trump and the children named in the lawsuit from serving as a director of a business incorporated in New York state. She also wants to revoke the Trump Organization’s corporate certificate, which, if granted by a judge, could effectively force the company to cease operations in New York state.

The judge overseeing the case appointed an independent monitor to review the Trump Organization’s financial statements and business decisions. He recently rejected requests to drop the case and said he was considering sanctioning Trump’s lawyers. The case is scheduled for October.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and said the case was politically motivated.

This story has been updated with additional details.


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