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Jury deliberations begin in Trump Organization tax fraud trial

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The jury began deliberations Monday in the tax fraud case against the Trump Organization, which is accused of a sweeping, 15-year scheme to compensate top executives of former President Donald Trump’s company off the books.

Judges deliberated for four and a half hours before getting to work. They will be back on Tuesday at 9:30 am.

The deliberations come after the prosecution and defense held closing arguments last week. The 15-count indictment accuses the company and former CFO Allen Weisselberg of conspiracies, tax fraud and falsifying 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 by the state Supreme Court, New York’s highest court.

Attorneys for the Trump Organization outlined their case that the prosecution’s key witness in the criminal trial, Weisselberg, committed his crimes for personal gain. The defense argued that prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office could not conclusively prove that he was doing this on behalf of the company.

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

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion, agreed to testify in exchange for a five-month prison sentence. The ex-CFO received $1.76 million in “indirect worker compensation” through the scheme, including a rent-free apartment, expensive cars, private school fees for his grandchildren and new furniture, prosecutors said. Other executives were compensated with similar benefits, they said, and given bonuses as independent contractors, saving the company payroll taxes.

Prosecutors turned their attention to the former president himself during closing arguments, marking a notable shift in the weeks-long trial that has largely focused on Weisselberg and other high-ranking non-Trump family members. Trump, who announced his 2024 presidential bid last month, has not been charged with wrongdoing.

“Donald Trump explicitly approves of tax fraud. That’s what this document shows,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass told jurors in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday. “This whole story about Donald Trump being blissfully ignorant just isn’t real.”

Defense attorneys sharply objected to the prosecution’s attention to Trump, which came after lawyers from Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. also repeatedly invoked the former president’s name while claiming he was unaware of tax settlements or the crimes Weisselberg admitted. .

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

Trump has publicly dismissed 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 convicted on all counts. A conviction could also hamper the company’s ability to obtain future financing, experts say.

Tom Winter, Adam Reiss and Chloe Atkins contributed.

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