The longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization on Thursday pleaded guilty to all 15 criminal charges in a criminal tax evasion case involving former President Donald Trump’s family business.
Allen Weisselberg was accused of taking more than $1.7 million in back-channel payments from the company. His defense lawyer Nicholas Gravante, said in a statement that entering the plea was one of the most difficult decisions of Weisselberg’s life but that he wanted to end “the years-long legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family.”
“Rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days. We are glad to have this behind him,” the statement said.
For decades, Weisselberg has had his fingers on the pulse of the Trump Organization’s finances. Here’s what we know about him.
Who is Allen Weisselberg?
Weisselberg is the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, a role he assumed in 2000. Raised in Brooklyn, he is widely seen as a hard worker and fiercely loyal to Trump. He deviates from the bombastic nature of many of those in Trump’s inner circle, having been married to his wife, Hillary, for over 50 years and called quiet and shy by colleagues.
When did Allen Weisselberg join the Trump family business?
Weisselberg was hired by Trump’s father, Fred Trump, in 1973. An accountant by training – though not a holder of a certified public accountant license, according to New York state records – Weisselberg became increasingly trusted by the family to manage their assets and protect the Trump’s financial secrets, rising to controller of the Trump Organization by the late 1980s.
He established the Trump Organization’s accounting department, managed the company’s and Trump’s personal tax returns, and oversaw the financing and management of the organization’s many properties.
When did Allen Weisselberg start working with Trump?
Weisselberg began directly working for Donald Trump in 1986, according to a 2015 deposition. In his role, he also became a confidant of the future president.
What did the Trump Organization indictment say?
The Trump Organization and Weisselberg in 2021 were charged in a 15-count indictment alleging criminal tax fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records.
Independently, Weisselberg was charged with grand larceny in connection with failing to pay taxes on $1.7 million in “off the books” benefits for his family. In all, he avoided $556,385 in federal tax payments; $106,568 in state taxes; and $238,159 in local New York City taxes. That charge is Weisselberg’s most serious threat; it carries a maximum punishment of five to 15 years in prison.
The Trump Organization faces fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars if convicted as a criminal enterprise. The trial is set for October.
What perks did Allen Weisselberg’s family allegedly receive?
Prosecutors alleged that the Trump Organization and Weisselberg ran a tax fraud scheme that funded luxury car leases, family members’ tuition payments and apartment rent starting in 2005 and running through 2021.
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Has Allen Weisselberg been involved in Trump Organization scandals before?
Yes. Weisselberg is often found at the epicenter of the Trump Organization’s financial scandals, being implicated for improper conduct.
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified in Congress that in 2016 Weisselberg reimbursed him $130,000 in hush money to pay the adult film star Stormy Daniels, who’d had an affair with Trump in 2006. Cohen also testified that he’d helped Weisselberg make up different valuations for the company’s real estate holdings, misleading lenders and partners as the organization needed.
Federal prosecutors in New York reportedly gave Weisselberg immunity in the Cohen case in 2018 on the terms that he would cooperate with the sweeping investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential violations of campaign finance laws.
Why is Allen Weisselberg valuable to prosecutors?
Weisselberg was a top overseer for the Trump family’s business. His guilty plea and subsequent deal require him to testify truthfully about the scheme if called as a government witness at the pending trial of the Trump Organization. It also requires Weisselberg to pay nearly $2 million in New York state and city taxes and penalties.
The agreement does not require Weisselberg to cooperate with prosecutors against former President Donald Trump himself, who has not been charged.
Did Weisselberg appear on ‘The Apprentice?
Yes, he did. Weisselberg appeared in one episode of Trump’s reality TV show in 2004, the New York Times reported. The episode was the seventh in Season 2, titled “Barking Up the Wrong Tree,” according to IMDB. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg also appears in the episode.
Contributing: Kevin McCoy, Matthew Brown; Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Who is Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s CFO?