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Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg to stand trial next summer, judge says


The family business of former President Donald J. Trump and its longtime CFO are set to face trial on tax crimes late next summer, a period that would straddle the home stretch of the midterm campaign of 2022, which could influence races where the presence of Mr. Trump could weigh heavily.

A Manhattan Criminal Court judge set the schedule Monday during a court appearance for the Trump organization and longtime senior executive Allen H. Weisselberg, as one of Mr. Weisselberg’s attorneys suggested that charges against other people could be imminent in the longtime criminal. investigation of company affairs.

“We have good reason to believe that there may be more charges ahead,” said Bryan Skarlatos, lawyer for Mr Weisselberg, who has been accused of avoiding taxes on more than 1.7 million dollars in benefits that prosecutors said should have been reported as income.

Although prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office did not respond to Mr. Skarlatos’ request, they investigated other Trump Organization employees for receiving similar undisclosed benefits, such as apartments. rent-free and rented cars.

If the schedule goes as planned, a trial could begin in the final weeks of a turbulent political season and continue to follow Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly suggested he could run for president again. It would also take place after Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney who had been investigating the former president’s family business for years, left office.

A trial could complicate the reliance of Republican candidates on the former president’s appeal and encourage their Democratic opponents to competitively run a referendum on Mr. Trump, as California Gov. Gavin Newsom has successfully done. in last week’s recall elections.

Since indicting Mr. Weisselberg in July, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has scrutinized Matthew Calamari, who previously worked as Mr. Trump’s bodyguard and became the chief operating officer of the Trump Organization. for four decades. It is not clear whether prosecutors will ultimately indict Mr. Calamari.

“We remain in talks with the district attorney’s office regarding Matthew Calamari, but continue to believe that there is no basis to charge him,” said Mr. Calamari’s attorney, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr. . “If they currently intended to charge him, I would have been informed. I was not and, in fact, I was informed otherwise.

It was Mr Weisselberg’s first court appearance since July, when he was charged with tax evasion, robbery and other crimes. The Trump organization itself has also been accused of facilitating what prosecutors have described as a 15-year conspiracy to evade taxes.

Prosecutors said Mr. Weisselberg was one of the biggest beneficiaries of what they called “a radical and daring program” in which the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump’s real estate company, helped its executives to evade taxes by compensating them with benefits including free cars and apartments.

Mr. Weisselberg, 74, has pleaded not guilty. He continues to work at the Trump Organization, where he spent nearly 50 years, although he has been removed from his leadership role at the company and its many subsidiaries.

Mr Weisselberg has been accused of failing to pay taxes on perks, including rented Mercedes-Benz cars, a rent-free apartment and his grandchildren’s school fees. Prosecutors continue to pressure him to cooperate with their broader investigation into Mr. Trump’s trade relationship, and the stakes for Mr. Weisselberg are high: If convicted, he could face more than a decade in prison.

In a statement released on Monday, lawyers for Mr Weisselberg said the indictment against him was “full of unsubstantiated and erroneous factual and legal assertions” and that they looked forward to challenging those claims in court. courts.

Judge Juan Merchan said on Monday he would look to late August or early September for a trial date. This timeline, however, could change, as frequently happens in court.

The charges against Mr. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization this summer stem from a multi-year investigation into whether Mr. Trump, a Republican, or his company committed tax, insurance, or bank fraud.

Mr. Trump, who has not been charged with wrongdoing in the investigation, has consistently criticized it as a politically motivated “witch hunt”.

Mr Vance, a Democrat, did not run for office and was not in the courtroom on Monday. Two candidates, Alvin Bragg and Thomas Kenniff, will compete to replace him in a ballot to be held in November.

Mr. Bragg, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor, is preferred to defeat Mr. Kenniff, a former Republican state attorney, given that voters in Manhattan are overwhelmingly Democrats.

Ben protests and William K. Rashbaum contributed reports.



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