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Jury deliberations to begin in Trump Organization tax evasion trial

The jury is due to begin deliberations on Monday in the tax evasion trial of the Trump Organization, which is accused of setting up a sweeping 15-year plan to compensate top executives of former President Donald’s company. Trump.

The deliberations come after the prosecution and defense delivered their closing arguments last week. The 15-count indictment accuses the company and longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg of conspiracy to commit fraud, tax evasion and falsification of records. Weisselberg was also hit with a major theft charge. Prosecutors say he used his position to avoid paying taxes on more than $1.7 million in earnings.

The case is being heard in the State Supreme Court, New York’s highest trial court.

Lawyers for the Trump Organization set out their case that the prosecution’s star witness in the criminal trial, Weisselberg, committed his crimes for his own gain. The defense argued that prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did so on behalf of the company.

“We are here today for one reason and one reason only, because of Allen Weisselberg’s greed,” defense attorney Susan Necheles said Thursday. She added that Weisselberg “wanted a deal with the government because he knew he had done something wrong and was afraid of a long prison term.”

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion, agreed to testify in exchange for a five-month prison sentence. The former CFO received $1.76 million in ‘indirect employee compensation’ from the scheme, including a rent-free apartment, expensive cars, private school tuition for his grandchildren and new furniture, prosecutors said. Other executives were paid with similar benefits, they said, and received bonuses as independent contractors, which saved the company’s payroll taxes.

Prosecutors focused on the former president himself during closing arguments, marking a notable shift in the weeklong trial that has largely focused on Weisselberg and other senior, non-Trump family members. Trump, who announced his 2024 presidential bid last month, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

“Donald Trump explicitly sanctions tax evasion. This document shows that,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass told jurors in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday. “This whole narrative of Donald Trump being blissfully ignorant just isn’t real.”

Defense attorneys have strongly objected to the prosecution’s focus on Trump, which came after attorneys for Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. also invoked the former president’s name on several occasions while claiming that he was unaware of any tax schemes or crimes that Weisselberg admitted to. .

Michael van der Veen, who represents the Trump Payroll Corp. in the case, asked the judge for a mistrial, but Acting New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan denied the request. “I don’t believe it’s necessary to declare a mistrial, nor do I believe it’s even a thought,” he said.

Trump has publicly blasted the investigation into his company as a politically motivated “witch hunt.” The former president’s company could face fines of up to $1.6 million if found guilty on all counts. A conviction could also hamper the company’s ability to secure future funding, experts said.

Tom Winter and Adam Reiss contributed.

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