As the New York attorney general’s bank fraud trial against Donald Trump dragged on into its eighth week Tuesday, former Trump Organization accountant Jeffrey McConney took the witness stand and cried. But even though McConney made it clear he was tired of being the man to bring down the former president, these weren’t tears of regret.
Instead, McConney lamented how law enforcement continues to target him to get to his former boss.
“I’m an honest person,” he muttered through tears, fondly recalling his time with the famous real estate company. “I’ve been able to do things that a normal accountant wouldn’t be able to do…I’m very proud of the work I’ve done over these 35 years. »
He listed all the ways prosecutors pressed him for answers over the past five years, lamenting how he was subpoenaed by the federal government, forced to testify in the state’s tax fraud trial. Manhattan district attorney against the company last year and forced to appear at the New York Times. York Attorney General’s Bank Fraud Trial Pending.
But when he spoke with a friendly defense attorney, McConney said nothing damning against the Trump Organization. Instead, he described documents in a boring manner for hours.
New York Attorney General Letitia James accused McConney of helping the Trump family and former CFO Allen Weisselberg, once his direct supervisor, falsify business records to get better deals from banks and companies. insurance.
“I just want to relax… and stop being accused of making false statements about the assets of the company I worked for,” he lamented. “I think it was all justified…I’m proud of what I did.”
This unexpected display of emotion was sparked by a question from defense attorney Jesus M. Suarez, who asked why McConney no longer worked at the company.
The detailed answer is of course very revealing.
For years, McConney served as the Trump Organization’s loyal controller, overseeing mundane internal finances and approving all manner of checks issued by the billionaire himself. But that role also involved overseeing Trump’s more questionable activities. Court records from previous court cases show he played an integral role in Trump’s scheme to direct charitable funds to then-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a scheme that ultimately cost Trump his charity when the New York AG closed it.
Last year, the Manhattan district attorney’s trial exposed how McConney helped executives evade taxes, admitting with a smirk beneath his white mustache that he “tried to help them in any way he could… with some suggestions. The company was found guilty on all counts and fined $1.6 million.
But it wasn’t because of McConney. The accountant actually tried to absorb all the blame and attribute it all to personal “mistakes.” One juror later told The Daily Beast that the jury quickly grew tired of his antics after fully realizing “he was obstructing the prosecution and just couldn’t say enough for the defense.” .
McConney played the same ignorant role when AG’s lawyers questioned him last month about his role in the alleged bank and insurance fraud conspiracy, which involved nearly a dozen real estate projects over the course of a decade.
The retired accountant had a much easier time on the witness stand Monday and Tuesday, as he was now fielding softball questions from defense attorneys.
The story of his departure from the Trump Organization glossed over another important fact: McConney left the company shortly before the AG’s trial, but only after being promised a severance package of $500,000.
When state investigators questioned him in court on Oct. 5, McConney revealed that he had already received $375,000, but was still owed $125,000. This monetary arrangement raises obvious red flags, given fears that his former employer could still have considerable influence over a witness in the case.
The situation mirrors the deal made by McConney’s former supervisor, Weisselberg, when he was forced to testify at the prosecutor’s criminal trial last year.
It wasn’t until Weisselberg was on the witness stand that the world first learned that the “fired” CFO was in fact still getting paid, earning the same $640,000 annual salary and receiving the same annual bonus of $500,000 – including compensation he admitted he was looking forward to. to be received shortly after this trial. At the time, former prosecutors who spoke to the Daily Beast derided it as a blatant strategy to keep Trump’s trusted lieutenants in line.
On Tuesday, McConney quickly regained his composure before receiving follow-up questions from Andrew Amer, the attorney general’s special litigation counsel. And McConney immediately claimed ignorance when asked about the contradictions in his testimony.
On Monday, McConney claimed that outside accountants at Mazars USA wrote a particular paragraph in Trump’s 2015 financial statements that was full of caveats. This clearly supported the defense team’s attempt to shed any personal blame by creating distance between Trump and certain details of the billionaire’s wildly inflated personal financial statements.
But during cross-examination Tuesday, Amer displayed an image on the screen facing the courtroom and pointed out that McConney had scribbled the exact same paragraph in blue pen.
The handwritten note touted the mogul’s “brand value” and how he “provided Mr. Trump with the opportunity to participate in licensing deals around the world, as evidenced in the track record below.”
When Amer asked him about it, McConney reverted to his old self; he doesn’t remember who wrote it.