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Trump’s longtime CFO Weiselberg gets 5 months in prison in tax fraud case

Trump’s longtime CFO Weiselberg gets 5 months in prison in tax fraud case

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NEW YORK, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Alan Weiselberg, a longtime Donald Trump executive who was the prosecution’s star witness in the criminal trial against the former president’s real estate company, was sentenced on Tuesday to five months behind bars for helping design of a 15-year tax fraud scheme at the Trump Organization.

Weiselberg, 75, is expected to be sent to New York’s notorious Rikers Island prison. The Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer pleaded guilty in August, admitting that from 2005 to 2017 he and other executives received bonuses and perks that saved the company and themselves money.

The sentence was imposed by Judge Juan Murchan in New York State Court in Manhattan, who oversaw the trial of the Trump Organization, which was convicted in December on all charges it faced. Although he is no longer CFO, Weisselberg remains on paid leave from the Trump Organization.

Weiselberg wore an olive green North Face jacket and a blue mask to his sentencing, and will likely be given a uniform and Velcro sneakers once he goes to prison.

Weiselberg, who also paid about $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest as part of his sentence, will likely serve 100 days in jail with time off for good behavior.

Time in prison likely won’t be easy for Weisselberg, in a facility known for violence, drugs and corruption. Nineteen inmates died there last year.

“You’re going into a Byzantine black hole,” said Craig Rothfeld, a prison consultant who is helping Weiselberg prepare for the arrest.

50 YEAR RELATIONSHIP

Many New York inmates facing a year or less behind bars head to Rikers Island, which is located between the New York boroughs of Queens and the Bronx and houses more than 5,900 inmates.

Rothfeld spent more than five weeks in Rikers in 2015 and 2016 as part of an 18-month sentence for defrauding investors and tax authorities at a company he once ran. He now runs Inside Outside Ltd, which advises people facing imprisonment. Another client is Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood film producer convicted twice of rape.

Rothfeld said he hopes Weiselberg will be separated from the general population and not housed in a dormitory with inmates who may not know him but will know his boss, who is running for president in 2024.

“Certainly Mr. Weiselberg’s 50-year relationship with the former president is on all of our minds,” Rothfeld said.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Corrections said the agency’s mission is “to create a safe and supportive environment for everyone who enters our detention center.”

Rikers is scheduled to close in 2027.

Weiselberg testified that Trump signed bonus and training checks and other documents at the heart of prosecutors’ case but was not involved in the tax fraud scheme. He testified in November that he hoped to receive a $500,000 bonus this month and that the company was paying his lawyers.

Trump has not been charged and denies wrongdoing.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who attended Weiselberg’s sentencing, is still investigating his business practices.

Murchan is also set to denounce the Trump Organization on Friday. Penalties are capped at $1.6 million.

Weissberg remains a defendant in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil suit alleging that Trump and his company inflated the value of Trump’s assets and net worth.

Rothfeld said he advised Weiselberg not to go outside at Rikers because of the risk of violence in the yards and not to interfere in conversations between other inmates.

“The goal is to keep to yourself,” Rothfeld said.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Will Dunham and Richard Chang

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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