New York, Jan 13 (EFE).- Former President Donald Trump’s family business was ordered Friday to pay $1.61 million in criminal fines, a sentence handed down a month after it was convicted of operating a 15-year tax-evasion scheme.
A jury in early December found two entities of the New York-based Trump Organization – The Trump Corporation and The Trump Payroll Corp. – guilty of 17 financial crimes in that case, including conspiracy, scheming to defraud and criminal tax fraud.
Neither the conservative ex-head of state nor any of his family members were charged.
The fine handed down by a judge in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, a trial court, was the maximum allowable under the law.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office had sought the heaviest possible penalty, said in a statement afterward that the sentencing was “consequential” and “serves as a reminder to corporations and executives that you cannot defraud tax authorities and get away with it.”
Even so, he added that it is “also an important reminder that our state law must change so that we can impose more significant penalties and sanctions on corporations that commit crimes in New York.”
Each of the two entities was hit with a nearly identical penalty, with The Trump Corporation ordered to pay $810,000 and The Trump Payroll Corp. fined $800,000.
On Tuesday, that same court handed down a five-month prison sentence to the Trump Organization’s ex-chief financial operator, Allen Weisselberg, who in August had pleaded guilty to tax fraud and falsifying business records and subsequently testified against his former employer as part of a plea deal.
Under the terms of that agreement, Weisselberg could be released after just 100 days behind bars.
Trump Organization attorneys have argued throughout that the case involved nothing more than Weisselberg’s having evaded his own personal income taxes by orchestrating a scheme whereby he received off-the-books perks like rent on his Manhattan apartment and private-school tuition for his grandchildren.
But the jury in December found that the ex-CFO’s machinations were also carried out for the benefit of the ex-president’s family business. Key to that conclusion was his testifying in court that the scheme helped lower the company’s payroll taxes and allowed it to avoid raising some executives’ salaries.
The New York Times said of Friday’s sentence that it has “branded the company a lawbreaker, exposed a culture that nurtured illegality for years and handed political ammunition to Mr. Trump’s opponents.”
Those rivals include not only the Democrats but also a sizable sector of the GOP that wants to turn the page on the former president – who has already announced his 2024 presidential candidacy – and move forward with new party standard-bearer. EFE