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NY Civil Lawsuit & Criminal Trial Against Donald Trump & Family

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  • #16
    Trump’s Efforts to Hide Cash From NY AG Shot Down in Court

    Donald Trump’s desperate attempts to escape the wrath of the New York Attorney General were halted Thursday, when a state judge there took the remarkable step of putting the former president’s company under court supervision—and preventing the billionaire from quietly shifting his money to avoid paying millions in fines.

    Justice Arthur F. Engoron intervened at the AG’s request, ordering the appointment of an independent monitor to ensure that the company can’t secretly move assets out of the law enforcement agency’s reach or keep issuing fraudulent financial statements.

    “There’s going to be a monitor,” he said in a Manhattan courtroom midday Thursday.


    The Trump Organization—the real estate company that propelled Trump into international fame—and its family leadership are accused of engaging in a blatant and long-running bank and tax fraud scheme. Documents filed in court meticulously describe how Trump and the adult family members he made executives there—Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric—persistently inflated the size and value of property to snag better bank loans and claim bigger tax breaks. They now face a $250 million lawsuit from New York AG Letitia James which seeks to cripple the corporation.

    She hopes to put the Trumps on trial in 2023, just as Trump is expected to pursue his political ambitions in a return to the White House.

    Trump has already taken actions that indicate he might be doing exactly what the AG fears: playing corporate games to avoid accountability.

    In recent weeks, he opened a new corporation in the shell company capital of Delaware, comically called “Trump Organization II.” And on Wednesday, he filed a state lawsuit in Florida’s Palm Beach County against the AG’s office trying to keep it from ever accessing any funds he shelters in a legal entity known as a “trust.” The lawsuit seeks a judicial order “declaring that James has no jurisdiction over the assets of a Florida revocable trust.”

    In court on Thursday, assistant attorney general Kevin Wallace stressed the importance of having Justice Engoron clamp down on the company, citing "ongoing fraudulent activities at the Trump Organization.” He argued that the AG’s office needs to have “general visibility” into the company so that it doesn’t become an empty shell by the time a trial ends—and it potentially has to pay millions in fines.

    “It's not appropriate for us to take this matter to trial... and now we're looking for the first time at what a restructured company might look like,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Christopher M. Kise, a Florida lawyer representing the Trump Organization, chalked up the entire lawsuit as a “manufactured bill of grievances,” given that the AG was pursuing a claim the company that was never made by its supposed victims—its major lender and accounting firm, Deutsche Bank and Mazars USA, respectively.

    “There is zero public interest here,” Kise said. “The attorney general is representing Deutsche Bank, Mazars... these corporate titans have... some of the best attorneys in the country… they've never complained.”

    Kise tried to cast any valuation issues as mere disagreements—the kind of dispute that happens everyday in business. But Engoron wasn’t having any of it, zeroing in on just one of Trump’s baldfaced lies.

    In his first round of questions, Engoron began by asking if Kise knew the size of the Trump Tower triplex in Manhattan. Kise said no. The judge then turned to the AG’s office lawyers, who explained how building plans show it’s 11,000 square feet—and yet Trump filed documents claiming it was actually three times that size, roughly 30,000 square feet.

    “Could that be a good faith disagreement?” Engoron asked.

    “It certainly could be,” Kise shot back incredulously.


    Engoron then highlighted how the Trump Organization benefited handsomely from that lie, having the AG’s office explain how the 20,000 square foot addition of nonexistent space blew up the real estate’s listed value according to the company’s own then-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

    “It led to a variation of what Mr. Weisselberg described as, give or take, $200 million,” Wallace said.

    Engoron said that discrepancy "by itself is enough to justify the appointment of a monitor."

    At this point, this lawsuit is one of a half dozen legal actions threatening the politically powerful Trump family. Trump himself could be hit with federal criminal charges for keeping classified information at his Florida oceanside estate of Mar-a-Lago, as well as state criminal charges for trying to intimidate a Georgia elections official into reversing his electoral loss there in 2020. Meanwhile, the company is currently defending itself at a criminal trial in Manhattan that accuses it of dodging taxes by showering executives with corporate luxury benefits off the books.

    However, the AG’s lawsuit strikes at the heart of Trump’s image—and his wallet. James is attempting to kill the company by bleeding it dry. She’s seeking to hit it with a quarter billion dollars in fines and prohibit the company from operating in New York or raising money in what has become the financial capital of the world.

    In court papers, the Trump Organization decried the lawsuit as a blatant campaign to “generate extensive press coverage on the eve of an election,” calling the attempts to exert control over Trump’s real estate empire as a “politically motivated attempt to nationalize a highly successful private enterprise.”

    Since the lawsuit was filed, the Trumps have been scrambling to limit the potential damage by trying to get Justice Engoron kicked off the case. They’ve argued the case should be in New York state court’s commercial division rather than with Engoron, who typically presides over civil matters.

    However, Engoron has refused to budge, saying he is best prepared to judge these issues given that he’s already intimately familiar with the AG’s investigation of the Trump Organization that led to the lawsuit. The Trumps spent three years trying to dodge deposition interviews with investigators and refusing to turn over documents, and it was Engoron who repeatedly had to issue court orders forcing them to comply with the AG’s subpoenas.

    Just yesterday, Engoron issued yet another order rejecting their demands that he step aside, writing that “judicial economy strongly militates keeping this case with this court, which will continue to preside over it ‘without fear or favor.’”
    ___________

    Imagine being one of Donald Trump's lawyers: Your whole existence is dedicated to defending the indefensible in a court of law...and then getting stiffed by Trump if you didn't get paid up front and in full.
    “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

    "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

    Comment


    • #17
      Trump Bucked Advice of Legal Team to Sue New York AG: Report
      Donald Trump filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing New York Attorney General Letita James of conducting a “witch hunt” and violating the former president’s right to privacy in the state’s civil fraud suit against him and three of his children. The New York Times reported a day later that Trump’s own legal team attempted to block the suit, calling it frivolous, and even warning that it borders on malpractice.

      Members of Trump’s legal teams both in Florida and New York allegedly expressed concern that the suit would undermine their defense in the New York trial. Sources tell the Times that Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s general counsel, lambasted Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, the alleged brains behind the suit, in an email. Epshteyn was one of the key figures behind a scheme to provide a slew of alternate Electoral College electors in order to overturn the results of the 2020 election in favor of Trump.

      The text of the suit indeed reads like it was written by a sycophant of the former president. Passages devote extensive prose to lauding Trump’s business acumen, including such verbiage as:

      As a private company, nobody knew very much about the great business that then–businessman Donald Trump had built but now it is being revealed by James and much to her chagrin. The continuing witch hunt that has haunted and targeted Donald Trump since he came down the “golden escalator” at Trump Tower in June of 2015 continues. President Trump built a great and prosperous company but a company nevertheless that must be carefully, delicately, yet powerfully managed, and the appointment of a political monitor or the interference by a political hack like James who is using this lawsuit for political gain, would bring great harm to the company, the brand, the employees and its overall reputation. Likewise, it could virtually destroy the highly profitable Florida properties, which include the legendary Trump National Doral Golf Club and Resort (one of the most successful in the world), Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach, Florida, Trump Jupiter Country Club in Jupiter, FL, and, of course, one of the greatest and most successful clubs in the world, The Mar-a-Lago Club.

      Gerald Greenberg, partner at Florida law firm Gelber, Schachter and Greenberg, told the Times that the suit appeared to be “objectively frivolous.” “I’m aware of no authority that allows a state court in Florida to enjoin or otherwise interfere with a law enforcement investigation being conducted by New York state authorities,” Greenberg said.

      The suit asked that the Trump’s companies not be placed under the purview of a court-appointed independent monitor, a request New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron decided Thursday would not be granted.

      The tone of the Florida filing apparently matches the argument being made in New York’s courtrooms. In court on Thursday, Justice Engoron allegedly described team Trump’s arguments against James’ request as being comprised mostly of hot air.

      “Today’s decision will ensure that Donald Trump and his companies cannot continue the extensive fraud that we uncovered and will require the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee compliance at the Trump Organization, said James in a statement released by her office. “No number of lawsuits, delay tactics, or threats will stop our pursuit of justice.”
      _______

      The stench of desperation is getting overpowering.....
      “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

      "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

      Comment


      • #18
        Exec says a note on Trump's personal ledger was "deleted" ahead of grand jury
        A note on Donald Trump's personal ledger was removed before his company turned over a copy to a grand jury investigating the Trump Organization for fraud, a company executive acknowledged in court Thursday.

        The revelation came during the third day of sworn testimony by Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, whose appearance in the company's New York criminal fraud trial was stalled for more than a week after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 1.

        McConney was shown a page of Trump's 2012 ledger — an accounting of expenses paid from Trump's personal coffers — provided to prosecutors by accounting firm Mazars USA. Beneath a ledger entry for a 2012 payment of more than $30,000 to a private school appears the phrase "per Allen Weisselberg," referring to the company's former chief financial officer who in August entered a guilty plea to fraud and tax evasion.

        McConney was then shown a copy of the same 2012 personal ledger page provided by the Trump Organization to a Manhattan grand jury in 2021. The phrase "per Allen Weisselberg" appeared to be missing.

        "If you go into the system on the general ledger program, you can change descriptions," McConney testified.

        "Are you saying someone deleted the phrase 'per Allen Weisselberg'?" asked prosecutor Joshua Steinglass.

        "Yes," McConney replied. Under further questioning, McConney was unable to say who deleted the entry.


        Trump Organization senior vice president and controller Jeffrey McConney returns to the courthouse after a break in the company's fraud trial, on Nov. 1, 2022, in New York. / Credit: Seth Wenig / AP

        The Manhattan District Attorney's Office in 2021 charged the Trump Organization and Weisselberg with more than a dozen criminal counts related to allegations that certain executives were provided with untaxed "indirect" compensation in the form of luxury benefits, including Manhattan apartments and private school tuition. The company maintains its innocence of all charges.

        McConney was the first witness called by prosecutors to the stand, but his testimony was abruptly halted during the second day of the trial on Nov. 1, when his positive COVID test came in. Earlier that day, McConney testified that after Trump took office as U.S. president in 2017, a longtime attorney for the company oversaw an internal review of the company's tax practices, leading the Trump Organization "to do things differently."

        Steinglass then asked if the review led to changes to "some of the practices that led to these charges?"

        McConney said, "Yes, sir."

        Prosecutors allege that executives at the company for more than a decade used a variety of methods to "hide" the luxury benefits from tax authorities.

        One method alleged by prosecutors is that executives were paid in part each year as if they were independent contractors for various Trump Organization entities.

        McConney said Thursday that a Mazars accountant at one point told him not to pay a Trump Organization attorney that way, because "there was concern that he could lose his legal license."

        "Did [the accountant] tell you that he wasn't 'a fan' of this practice for any employee?" Steinglass asked.

        "I believe he did use that word, yes," McConney replied.

        McConney said Thursday that the company stopped this payment practice in 2017 or 2018. Asked by Steinglass if the "2017 cleanup" was initiated because Trump became president, McConney said he believed it was a "coincidence."

        "Nobody told me specifically that this change was because Mr. Trump became President Trump," McConney said.

        In February, Mazars USA notified the Trump Organization that it was recanting a decade of annual financial statements prepared for Trump and his businesses, writing in a letter to the company that they "should no longer be relied upon." Mazars cited information that had surfaced in law enforcement investigations for its decision to cut ties with the Trump Organization.

        Attorneys for the company said in their opening statements that there was no company fraud scheme, but instead that Weisselberg alone hid that he wasn't paying taxes on benefits.

        Weisselberg, who agreed as part of his plea deal to testify in the case, is expected to be called as a witness during the trial. He will be sentenced after the company's trial.
        _______

        Destruction of company records...you don't say!
        “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

        "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

        Comment


        • #19
          Trump’s Money Man Just Linked Him to Tax Fraud Scheme

          Former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg testified Tuesday that Donald Trump personally green-lighted untaxed benefits that are the center of a Manhattan criminal trial against several of the ex-president’s eponymous companies — including a gratis residence in New York City. “The rent was authorized by Donald Trump,” Weisselberg said less than two hours into his time on the stand in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. The septuagenarian, who sported a deep gray suit and pale blue tie, spoke matter of factly.

          Prosecutors allege that the Trump Organization participated in an illicit compensation scheme that illegally lined Weisselberg’s pockets to the tune of $1.7 million of untaxed income. Weisselberg in August pleaded guilty to a 15-count indictment related to these unlawful payouts and, according to Weisselberg’s plea agreement, he “must testify truthfully” if called to testify at trial.

          Prosecutors indeed summoned Weisselberg to testify — hence the Trump loyalist’s much-awaited courtroom appearance this afternoon. Should Weisselberg testify honestly, his sentence under the plea deal is five months in jail, and five years probation. If Weisselberg doesn’t, then he faces far more time behind bars, judge Juan Merchan previously said.

          Weisselberg’s plea agreement stipulates that he won’t face sentencing until after the trial ends, “to ensure compliance” with this testimony requirement. He also has to cough up nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes.

          When Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August, he made a stunning admission. He responded “yes, your honor” when Merchan asked whether he “engaged in a scheme” with the Trump Organization “to defraud federal, New York state, and New York City tax authorities.”

          One day prior to Weisselberg’s plea, Rolling Stone exclusively reported that he would cop to conspiring with several of Trump’s corporations during his allocution proceeding. CNN first reported that his plea agreement mandated him to testify against Trump’s companies at trial.

          Earlier that week, The New York Times revealed that Weisselberg was planning to take a plea. One of the two sources who discussed Weisselberg with Rolling Stone the week of his plea revealed that his potential trial testimony would be the same as his allocution.

          Although Trump is not on trial, prosecutors have closely linked this alleged illegal activity to him. During opening statements on October 31, prosecutors said that from 2005 to 2017, “when most of the criminal conduct occurred,” these companies were “owned by Donald Trump.”

          Following Trump’s assumption of the presidency in 2017, these enterprises “were still effectively owned by Donald Trump through a trust called the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust,” Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger said.

          “The evidence will show that when Donald Trump was elected president at the end of 2016, these companies finally had to clean up these fraudulent tax practices,” Hoffinger argued. “There was concern about extra scrutiny of these companies because of Donald Trump’s election.”

          The trial is rooted in the 2021 indictment of several Trump businesses, including The Trump Organization, for a purported 15-year-long tax fraud plot. The supposed financial misdeeds related to untaxed perks to Weisselberg in a “sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme,” prosecutors have said.

          The prosecution claimed that Weisselberg’s loyalty to Trump and his ilk paid off. Beginning in 2005, Weisselberg lived in an apartment rent-free on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The Trump Corporation leased the apartment and, in addition to covering the rent, covered his utility and parking fees, the indictment claimed.

          Trump’s eponymous company is also accused of paying the leases on two Mercedes-Benz vehicles that Weisselberg and his wife treated as their personal cars. Trump’s business entities also provided cash to Weisselberg around Christmas, so he could dole out “personal holiday gratuities.”

          Trump’s companies also picked up bills involving Weisselberg’s “homes and for an apartment maintained by one of his children,” such as “new beds, flat-screen televisions, the installation of carpeting, and furniture for Weisselberg’s home in Florida.”

          The Trump Corporation also took care of private school tuition bills for Weisselberg’s grandkids. Hoffinger told jurors in her opening statement that Trump paid this tab “personally” — a claim which was backed by Weisselberg’s testimony on Tuesday.

          Weisselberg said that he could authorize a small expense out of Trump company coffers, but if it was a large number, Trump would generally approve them.

          Weisselberg testified that the Trump Corporation paid for his utilities at the rent-free pad. “It’s your understanding that was authorized by Mr. Trump?” Hoffinger asked. Weisselberg responded: “That was my understanding, yes.”


          Asked whether Trump paid the private school tuition personally, Weisselberg said, “Correct.” Weisselberg then admitted that these luxe perks should have been taxed, but were not treated as reported income on his W-2s.

          “Did you know at the time you owed taxes on those amounts, sir?” Hoffinger asked.

          “Yes,” Weisselberg replied.

          Did Weisselberg know the Trump Payroll Corporation should have included this on his W-2s? He replied in the affirmative.

          Hoffinger then asked about Jeffrey McConney, senior vice president and controller for Trump Corporation, whom prosecutors alleged aided Weisselberg in the tax fraud scheme.

          “In my mind, I absolutely felt that [McConney] knew it should have been reported,” Weisselberg said. Hoffinger then asked how it wound up that the bonuses weren’t on the W-2s.

          “I asked Jeffrey McConney to back those amounts out of my bonus and salary,” Weisselberg said, explaining that it was “to reduce the amount of my bonus and salary.”

          Weisselberg said he didn’t just seek a raise because Trump’s company would have had to pay him far more than the desired amount due to tax withholdings. Weisselberg replied, “Yes,” when asked by Hoffinger if this saved Trump’s company money.

          Trump’s companies have pleaded not guilty, and his team has repeatedly cast this case as a politically-driven witch hunt. During the proceedings, the legal teams for Trump’s companies have voiced support of Weisselberg and, to some lesser extent, made him into a fall guy.

          Susan Necheles, who represents the Trump Corporation, placed all the blame for tax shenanigans on Weisselberg during her opening statement, with a hint of compassion. The septuagenarian was “paraded in front of cameras in handcuffs” upon his arrest and came to realize that he would endure “public humiliation” and a possibly long jail sentence, too.

          “This was a man who had a beautiful life, he was a chief financial officer of a prestigious company, at his peak he made over $1 million a year and lived very well… Allen Weisselberg had everything a man could want,” Necheles said. “But once he was arrested, he realized he was in danger of losing all of that and being sentenced to jail for years.”

          The fishy financial maneuvering “started with Allen Weisselberg and it ended with Allen Weisselberg,” Necheles insisted. “It was Allen Weisselberg who wanted to clean things up. Allen Weisselberg knew that he had been cheating on his personal taxes and all of a sudden the Trump Organization was going to get a lot of scrutiny,” she argued. “Donald Trump did not know that Allen Weisselberg was cheating on Allen Weisselberg’s personal tax return[s].”

          Weisselberg’s testimony also revealed that he wasn’t iced out of Trump’s orbit per se, but found himself distanced following his arrest. After he was arrested, his Trump Tower office was moved from the 26th to the 25th floor.

          And after he pleaded guilty, Weisselberg said, “I began to work from home. I didn’t come into the office any longer.”

          Hoffiner asked whether he was on a leave of absence following his guilty plea. Weisselberg answered, “Yes,” but noted that it was “paid.”

          Weisselberg also described how his son, Trump employee Barry Weisselberg, threw him a birthday party at Trump Tower on the day he had finalized his plea deal. Trump Organization staffers were present. “Much to my regret my son made sure I had a birthday,” Weisselberg said, quickly de-emphasizing the size of this shindig. “It was a small cake. It was a cake.”
          _________
          “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

          "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

          Comment


          • #20
            Trumps had role in fraud scheme, former exec testifies at company's trial

            Former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg testified in court Thursday, describing how Donald Trump and two of his children allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud tax authorities.

            Weisselberg said Donald Trump, or at times Eric Trump or Donald Trump Jr., signed checks to pay up to $100,000 for private school tuition for Weisselberg's grandchildren. Weisselberg said he then instructed the company's controller to deduct the $100,000 from his salary, allowing him to report a smaller income. Copies of some of the checks signed by the Trumps have been shown in court.

            Weisselberg said the first time Trump signed a tuition check, Weisselberg told him, "Don't forget, I'm going to pay you back for this." The payback, he said, was the salary reduction.


            Two Trump Organization entities and Weisselberg are accused of more than a dozen counts of fraud and tax evasion. Weisselberg entered a guilty plea in August, admitting to charges filed by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office accusing him of receiving more than $1.7 million in untaxed compensation.

            Weisselberg, who is still on the Trump Organization's payroll, has over the first two days of testimony described a litany of benefits he and several other executives received for which he said their salaries were similarly reduced to avoid paying taxes.

            He said for himself and several other executives, the salary reductions were then mitigated by hefty bonus checks paid to the executives as if they were independent contractors for Trump Organization entities.

            "Donald Trump always wanted to sign the bonus checks" before he became president in 2017, Weisselberg said.


            That practice ceased during the next two years after an internal review led to changes at the company, he said.

            "We were going through a company-wide cleanup process, making sure that since Mr. Trump was now president, everything was being done properly," Weisselberg said.

            Weisselberg said the funds delivered as independent contractor payments were used to set up Keogh retirement plans, tax-deferred pension accounts designed for people who are self-employed.

            Defense attorneys for the Trump Organization have said the company did nothing wrong, and laid the scheme squarely at Weisselberg's feet, saying he hid the salary reductions and independent contractor payments from the Trumps.

            Trump Organization attorney Alan Futerfas asked Weisselberg Thursday, "What human being did you scheme with?"

            Weisselberg replied, "Jeff McConney," referring to the company's controller, who previously testified during the trial. McConney was granted immunity in exchange for grand jury testimony in the case, and blamed Weisselberg for the scheme.

            Futerfas continued with questions seeking to differentiate the Trumps from the executives who worked beneath them.

            "Did you conspire with any member of the Trump family?" Futerfas asked.

            "No," Weisselberg replied.

            "Did you scheme with Jeff McConney?" Futerfas asked.

            "Yes," Weisselberg replied.

            "Did you scheme with any member of the Trump family?" Futerfas asked.

            "No," Weisselberg replied.

            Later, Futerfas asked, "Aside from family members, you were among the most trusted people they knew. Is that correct?"

            "Correct," Weisselberg replied.

            Soon after, Futerfas asked, "Are you embarrassed about what you did?"

            Choking up, Weisselberg replied, "More than you can imagine."

            Earlier Thursday, Weisselberg said under questioning by a prosecutor that other executives at the company were active participants in, and beneficiaries of, similar salary and bonus arrangements.

            Weisselberg described arranging for his son Barry's family to live in a newly-renovated apartment on New York's tony Central Park South. He said the location was convenient for Barry Weisselberg's job as manager of an ice rink and carousel run by the Trump Organization in Central Park. Allen Weisselberg said his son paid $500 out of pocket and $500 from his salary per month to rent the apartment, which he described as a "below market" rate.

            At the time, Allen Weisselberg and his wife lived in an $8,200 per month company-owned apartment under a lease agreement signed by Donald Trump himself.

            Allen Weisselberg said he provided his son's tax paperwork for preparation to the outside accountant who was in charge of the entire Trump Organization's annual tax account. Allen Weisselberg said his son's reported salary at the time "was probably lower than it should have been."

            Peter Stambleck, an attorney for Barry Weisselberg, declined to comment.
            ___________

            He didn't "scheme" with the Trumps, but they knew all about the scheme? Did I read that right?
            “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

            "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
              Trumps had role in fraud scheme, former exec testifies at company's trial

              He didn't "scheme" with the Trumps, but they knew all about the scheme? Did I read that right?
              When I heard this last night on NPR, I damn near drove off the road. There's a smoking gun!
              “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
              Mark Twain

              Comment


              • #22
                Trump Ordered His Companies to Fight Manhattan Tax-Fraud Case
                (Bloomberg) -- The criminal tax fraud case against a pair of Trump Organization companies playing out in a Manhattan courtroom this month went all the way to trial because of one man: Donald Trump.

                Companies under criminal investigation often cut deals to lessen or avoid prosecution in exchange for paying a penalty and changing their conduct. But because the two Trump business units would have had to say their employees knowingly committed tax fraud, the boss wouldn’t let them strike a plea deal with prosecutors, according to a person familiar with the decision who asked not to be named discussing a private matter.

                The Manhattan district attorney’s office alleges the two Trump companies ran a tax evasion scheme for more than a decade, showering executives including longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg with perks -- like luxury apartments and private school tuition -- as compensation hidden from the government.

                The defense says Weisselberg went rogue and the companies didn’t benefit from his acts. Trump, who isn’t charged, has called the case a baseless vendetta.

                In opting to fight it out, the Trump companies risk conviction on the strongest charges the DA’s office could muster -- and the public airing of the Trump Organization’s inner workings in open court. And Trump runs those risks even as he runs for president, having entered the race on Tuesday.

                But rolling the dice on a trial holds the possibility of a triumphant acquittal, an attractive prospect for the self-described fighter who calls the probes facing him and his business political maneuvers. The case is being prosecuted jointly by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump, the Republican Party’s most powerful figure, has branded it as “another witch hunt” by James, who like Bragg is a Democrat.

                The financial penalty the court could impose if the DA wins a guilty verdict is only about $1.6 million -- the sum of the various fines attached to the different counts the defendant companies face, including conspiracy and tax fraud.

                Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich didn’t respond to a text and phone call seeking comment on the case. Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten didn’t respond to an email. A spokesperson for Bragg had no comment.

                Risky Move

                Still, trial by jury is always a gamble. If the two companies, Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp., are convicted, it could set off a cascade of consequences.

                “This is no small potatoes prosecution,” given the claim that the defendants have flouted the law for years, said Bennett Gershman, a professor at Pace University’s law school. If they are found guilty, he said, the Trump Organization itself could face “a host of intangibles.”

                “The parent company, as a felon, could be barred from having contracts with government agencies,” Gershman said, “and it could make it more difficult to do business with banks.”

                “This is a big deal,” he said.

                If the jury does return a guilty verdict, the Trump Organization is likely to argue that it can’t be held criminally accountable, as a whole, for the acts of the two subsidiaries.

                And the fallout of a conviction might not be so severe, said Daniel R. Alonso, who was a chief assistant in the Manhattan DA’s office and is now a partner at Buckley LLP. State law is weak in holding corporations criminally accountable, Alonso said.

                Some convicted companies have been sentenced to meet a “conditional discharge,” a series of requirements such as cleaning up compliance programs or accepting the imposition of a court-appointed monitor, Alonso said.

                Trump has a decades-long history of legal combat. He began fighting the case when the DA’s office issued a subpoena for his tax returns in 2019, and fought that information demand right up to the US Supreme Court, where he lost.

                Graver Threats

                The case has changed substantially since Bragg inherited it from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr. The two lead prosecutors in the matter were planning to secure an indictment against Trump himself early this year. Bragg didn’t believe they had a strong enough case against the former president. The two prosecutors resigned.

                Graver threats hover over Trump. Aside from criminal probes over the Mar-a-Lago papers and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, the trial comes amid a $250 million civil suit against the Trump Organization by James. The AG claims Trump and three of his children inflated the value of the firm’s assets and is seeking penalties including a permanent ban on the four running companies in the state.

                As for reputation, marketing expert Allen Adamson sees no disadvantage to Trump’s doing battle in front of a jury in Bragg’s case. Quite the contrary.

                “It’s strengthening his brand to go through with the trial -- win, lose or draw,” Adamson said. “There’s no downside to fighting. Even if he loses, he pays a small fine, versus being put in an orange jumpsuit.” Considering the larger legal threat Trump might have faced over the alleged activity, he said, “this is not even a blip.”

                Loyalty to Trump

                One unusual aspect of the trial is the loyalty that some prosecution witnesses may feel to the Trump Organization. Weisselberg, the DA’s star witness, pleaded guilty in August and agreed to testify truthfully in exchange for serving as few as 100 days in jail. But he is still drawing his full $640,000 salary and has worked for the family since 1973, starting with Trump’s father, Fred Trump.

                Prosecutors found their first witness, Trump Organization Controller Jeffrey McConney, so evasive that they sought to have him declared a hostile witness. In a dramatic day in court Monday, the judge granted that request, giving them more latitude in questioning him.

                The controller’s testimony occasioned a little drama earlier in the trial as well, when a prosecutor showed the jury a lease on an apartment for Weisselberg that the firm covered.

                “Whose signature is that?” the prosecutor asked.

                “President Trump,” McConney said.


                The case is People v. Trump Organization, 01473-2021, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).
                _____
                “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

                "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

                Comment


                • #23
                  Prosecutors rest case in Trump Organization's criminal tax fraud trial
                  NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The prosecution rested its case on Monday in the criminal trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump's real estate company on charges including tax fraud after calling five witnesses over three weeks, setting the stage for the Trump Organization to begin to mount its defense.

                  Jurors in New York state court in Manhattan last week heard from the prosecution's star witness Allen Weisselberg, the company's former chief financial officer, who testified that the Trump Organization paid his personal expenses including rent and car leases for more than a decade, allowing him to avoid paying taxes on $1.76 million in income.

                  The Trump Organization, which operates hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world, could face up to $1.6 million in fines for the three tax fraud counts and six other counts it faces, if convicted. It has pleaded not guilty.

                  Trump has not been charged in the case. Trump, a Republican who last week launched another bid for the presidency in 2024, has called the charges politically motivated. Alvin Bragg, the current Manhattan district attorney, is a Democrat, as is the DA who brought the charges last year, Cyrus Vance.

                  The company has sought to shift the blame onto Weisselberg as well as Donald Bender, an outside accountant with the Mazars firm who prepared tax returns for the company and Weisselberg. Lawyers for the company have said they plan to call Bender as a witness. Mazars in February dropped the company as a client and said it could no longer stand behind a decade of Trump's financial statements.

                  The district attorney's office charged the Trump Organization and Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to charges including grand larceny and tax fraud in an August deal with prosecutors calling for a jail sentence of five months if he testified truthfully in the trial.

                  Weisselberg during three days of testimony said he worked with the Trump Organization's controller to misreport his and others' income on company tax forms, which let the company save on salary payments as well as payroll taxes. The testimony gave a boost to the prosecutors, who in order to win a conviction must show that executives acted in their official capacity when committing crimes.

                  Under cross-examination by the defense, Weisselberg said his intention in carrying out the arrangement was to benefit himself, calling the company's savings a "byproduct." He choked up as he said he was embarrassed about having betrayed the Trump family's trust.

                  Weisselberg, who has worked for the company for nearly half a century, is on paid leave from the Trump Organization.

                  The prosecution began presenting its case on Oct. 31. Its final witness on Monday was Mukaila Rabiu, an auditor with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

                  The case is separate from a $250 million civil lawsuit filed by New York's attorney general against Trump, three of his adult children and his company in September, accusing them of overstating asset values and his net worth to get favorable bank loans and insurance coverage.

                  U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday named a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's investigations related to Trump including his handling of sensitive government documents after leaving office and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
                  __________

                  Nice to see things moving along. Now Trump's lawyers get to defend the indefensible...as usual.
                  “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

                  "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Ya know, one of these days I expect one of his attorneys to be fed up and say in court..."Aw fuck it. Ladies & Gentlemen of the jury, my client is guilty as hell!!!"
                    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                    Mark Twain

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Donald Trump will testify in New York court to defend his business empire
                      • Donald Trump will testify in person in 2023 to defend his company against New York's $250 million lawsuit.
                      • He's the lead defendant in the state attorney general's suit, which seeks to bar him from doing business in the state.
                      • Until now, Trump has shunned testifying at public trials or even giving closed-door depositions.
                      Donald Trump will personally take the stand in Manhattan next year to defend his real-estate and golf-resort empire from New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million fraud lawsuit, which seeks to bar his family from doing business in the state.

                      The revelation came on Tuesday as lawyers for Trump and the attorney general's office clashed heatedly in court over setting a trial schedule.

                      The trial could determine whether Trump and his three eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, can ever run a corporation in the state again; it is scheduled for October 2, 2023.

                      Since his presidency, Trump has shunned publicly testifying or even being privately deposed in the many lawsuits he has been involved in.

                      He most recently fought being deposed and testifying in a case that settled in the Bronx this month, instead giving taped testimony that would have been played in lieu of his live testimony had the case gone to trial.

                      But now, James' lawsuit is threatening the very survival of his Manhattan-headquartered business.

                      "They will be here," said lawyer Alina Habba, who represents the company and Trump himself. "All of them."

                      Trump would prefer the case be tried by a jury of Manhattan residents, the lawyer also revealed.

                      His company is currently also on trial before a Manhattan jury on tax-fraud charges; that case continued Tuesday with testimony from an outside accountant who handled tax matters for Trump and the company.

                      "Donald Trump and entities would like to have a jury trial," Habba told the judge.

                      Lawyers for the attorney general's office, meanwhile, asked for a bench trial, to be presided over by state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, the same judge who oversaw two years of litigation leading up to the September 21 filing of the attorney general's lawsuit.

                      The judge reserved decision on bench versus jury trial, though he seemed amenable to what Clifford Robert, a defense lawyer for Donald Trump, Jr., and Eric Trump, called a "bifurcated" trial.

                      The two sons and Ivanka Trump are also named as defendants in the attorney general's lawsuit.

                      Outside court, Habba told Insider that it's not unusual for Trump to want to testify in his own defense; it's just that so many of the cases he has been involved in have settled prior to trial, she said.

                      "Most cases don't go to trial because they have no merit, just like this one," she said. "But Mr. Trump will be — President Trump will be — very involved."

                      It was a fiery hearing before Engoron, who began the proceeding by chastising the lawyers for Donald Trump and for his three eldest children, who are also defendants in the case.

                      The defense is seeking to have the attorney general's lawsuit dismissed, but is using the same arguments that were unsuccessful in his own courtroom and later on appeal, Engoron told defense lawyers.
                      ___________

                      Oh. God. Habba must be the stupidest lawyer on the planet....
                      “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

                      "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                        I heard 2 different analyses yesterday that the committee staffers can rip through this quite quickly and get them posted in the Congressional Record. Also enough time to refer to the DOJ if needed.
                        Well...can't say they haven't had enough time to plan out their next move
                        “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

                        "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Judge reprimands Trump Corp. lawyers for late night filings
                          New York CNN — Judge Juan Merchan reprimanded lawyers for the Trump Corporation for filing motions and new exhibits late Sunday night that they want to introduce Monday morning when they question Mazars accountant Donald Bender, telling them he will no longer accept any motions from the attorneys.

                          Defense attorneys had submitted 18 exhibits to the prosecution around midnight.

                          “It’s inconsiderate at a minimum,” the judge said. At worst, it’s “good old-fashion sandbagging.”


                          At times, the judge raised his voice and told defense attorney Susan Necheles to be seated.

                          “It’s almost as though you really don’t want me to rule on the issue,” Merchan told Necheles. “It’s almost as though you don’t want me to get it right. I’m not accepting any filings any more from the Trump Corporation, period.”

                          The judge denied Necheles’ request to consider Bender a “hostile” witness and her motion to introduce an accounting code of conduct.

                          Merchan said he wouldn’t allow them to introduce the code of conduct because it would open up other irrelevant lines of questioning. He previously ruled that the Trump entities cannot use as their defense that they relied on the accountants.

                          “Our defense is we relied on accountants for state of mind,” Necheles countered. She said the Trump entities paid Mazars a lot of money, they were excellent accountants, and knew what the Trump companies had done because it was spelled out in their books and records.

                          Bender testified that Trump Organization executives hid from him some of the compensation and fringe benefits they received. Bender said he was aware that certain employees were paid bonuses as if they were consultants, which gave them and the Trump entities certain tax benefits.

                          Necheles wants to further challenge Bender on what he knew when she questions him again this morning. The defense called Bender, after prosecutors decided not to call him in their case.

                          The judge’s comments were directed at Necheles, who is representing the Trump Corporation. The Trump Payroll Corp. is represented by a separate set of attorneys.

                          The two Trump Organization entities are charged with nine counts of tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records in what prosecutors allege was a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation provided to employees. The companies have pleaded not guilty.
                          ____________

                          Nice to see the courts aren't putting up with Trump's usual legal ratfucking tactics.
                          “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

                          "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Nice to see the courts aren't putting up with Trump's usual legal ratfucking tactics.

                            So the judiciary has had just enough from the Trump Crime Family and are playing hardball. Good. Same is happening in other courtrooms and cases. Gives me some hope.
                            “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                            Mark Twain

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                              Nice to see the courts aren't putting up with Trump's usual legal ratfucking tactics.

                              So the judiciary has had just enough from the Trump Crime Family and are playing hardball. Good. Same is happening in other courtrooms and cases. Gives me some hope.
                              Yeah, same here.

                              Of course, the Yogi Berra Rules are always in effect.
                              “Fascism not only promotes violence but relishes it, viscerally so. It cherishes audacity, bravado and superbia, promotes charismatic leaders, demagogues and ‘strong men’, and seeks to flood or control the media.”

                              "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by TopHatter View Post

                                Yeah, same here.

                                Of course, the Yogi Berra Rules are always in effect.
                                When you come to a fork in the road, take it?
                                “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                                Mark Twain

                                Comment

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