Lawyers and representatives for the Trump Organization publicly dismissed the criminal charges against the company as prosecutorial overreach Thursday, but legal experts say the company and its Chief Financial Officer are in serious legal jeopardy.
The 15-count indictment charges the company and longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg with scheming to defraud, tax fraud, and falsifying records, while Weisselberg was also hit with a grand larceny charge. Prosecutors say he used his position to get out of paying taxes on $1.7 million in income. Both he and the company pleaded not guilty to all the charges.“After years of investigation and the collection of millions of documents and devoting the resources of dozens of prosecutors and outside consultants, this is all they have? In my 50 years of practice, I have never seen this office bring a case like this and, quite frankly, I am astonished,” one of the Trump Organization’s attorneys, Ron Fischetti, said in a statement.
In response, Daniel Shaviro, a professor of taxation at NYU Law, remarked, “Obviously, prosecutors have to prove everything they say, but some of the things in the indictment — there’s just no legal defense for it.” Shaviro said given the allegations laid out in the 24-page indictment, it would have been more astonishing if the Manhattan district attorney’s office had looked the other way. “This is a lot clearer than I would have expected,” Shaviro told NBC News.
As someone who has written for decades about corporate crime, I was reading the Trump O/Weisselberg indictment going, "Yah, ok..hmm..yah..ok..Wait..HOLY SHIT!" The Trump Org is in deep, deep trouble. And not because of the criminal charges. Because of its bank loan covenants…/1
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) July 1, 2021
The indictment said the company kept two sets of books — a private one that counted Weisselberg’s apartment and cars as part of his $940,000-a-year compensation, and another that didn’t, allowing him to pay taxes on less income. “I don’t see how you don’t charge this,” Shaviro said.
Glenn Kirschner, a legal analyst for NBC News and a former federal prosecutor, said the length of the scheme shows Weisselberg and others “were running a financially corrupt organization.” He noted they did nothing to address the tax shortfall even when they knew they were being investigated.
Did you hear the offensive, despicable comments by Trump Org lawyer, Allen Futerfas? He said the NY indictment would hurt the “waiters & busboys” of the Trump Org.” Was it the waiters and busboys who got $200k Mercedes & $360k of tuition paid w/dirty $? No – the Weisselbergs did! pic.twitter.com/c6wmMWM5dT
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) July 2, 2021
“The indictment says the scheme began in 2005, and they’re charged through yesterday,” Kirschner said. “They were scheming and defrauding right through yesterday.” Kirschner predicts the case will lead to more indictments, and possibly the demise of the Trump Organization. “If the Trump Organization is convicted, banks will not loan it money,” he said.
Clearly no one at Trump Org has told the nepotism hires that commenting on the criminal matter is unwise. Run your mouth, Eric. Run your mouth. pic.twitter.com/iulouUmiAn
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) July 2, 2021
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the indictment, saying it “relates to an active, ongoing investigation.”
Watch an overview on the latest in the Trump Org case, below.