New York, Jan 10 (EFE).- Allen Weisselberg, who for decades was the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, on Tuesday was sentenced to five months in prison by the Supreme Court of New York state, a light sentence resulting from his plea bargain agreement with prosecutors, local media reported.
Although sentenced to serve five months behind bars at Rikers Island – a prison known for its difficult conditions – the 75-year-old Weisselberg may be released for good behavior in just 100 days, The New York Times reported.
Weisselberg pleaded guilty last August to 15 counts – including scheme to defraud, conspiracy, grand larceny and criminal tax fraud – after confirming the existence of a long-standing payroll-tax evasion scheme and testifying that he, other top execs and the company benefited from it.
The Trump Organization money-man always has insisted, however, that he acted solely for his own benefit and not, for instance, for the benefit of or at the behest of the Trump Organization’s owner, former President Donald Trump, who was not charged in the tax avoidance scheme.
“The entire case was driven by greed,” said New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan in handing down the sentence.
In his testimony at trial, Weisselberg admitted that between 2005 and 2021 he failed to declare to tax authorities $1.76 million in “earnings” through securing employment perks including a rent-free luxury Manhattan apartment, several Mercedes automobiles, luxury furniture and private tuition for his grandchildren, according to state prosecutors.
Weisselberg avoided paying some $900,000 in taxes by receiving large portions of his salary in the form of these untaxed perks.
The former CFO will also have to pay New York state $2 million in back taxes, fines and interest, and after his stint in prison he will be on probation for five more years.
Two other entities comprising the Trump Organization – namely the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation – will probably be separately sentenced on Friday and will have to pay a maximum penalty of $1.6 million, but Donald Trump himself is not on trial with those entities either.
Attorneys for the ex-president have called the trial, just like they have said about others against Trump and his organization, “politically motivated” and a “witch hunt” against the former president and business mogul and his family.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice decided on Tuesday to reject a request by Trump and his three older children – Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric – to throw out the case being pursued by New York Attorney General Letitia James investigating the Trump Organization’s alleged fraudulent practices to obtain loans and tax advantages, a case that is not directly linked to the one against Weisselberg.