December 8, 2022
The Trump Organization’s two affiliate companies on trial in New York City were found guilty of all nine counts of tax fraud and related crimes on Monday, December 5, as jurors ended a long trial with a swift verdict against the former U.S. president’s corporate empire, reports The Daily Beast.
The Manhattan jury concluded that former President Donald Trump’s eponymous companies dodged taxes by playing accounting games: showering their executives with benefits, reducing their official salary, and paying them at times as if they were “independent contractors.”
As the court clerk read the list of nine criminal counts—tax fraud, falsifying business records, engaging in a conspiracy—the jury foreperson kept repeating the same word, “Guilty.” At times, she even got ahead of herself, saying the word before the clerk finished describing the charge. Afterward, each juror nodded and asserted out loud that they agreed.
The company now faces what prosecutors expect to be more than $1 million in fines—a paltry sum for a multi-billion dollar global marketing operation but a mark of shame nonetheless, just as Trump launches a re-election campaign. This is also the first successful legal action against the Trumps in years.
The tax accounting hacks were all a ruse—one that even the company acknowledged but placed all the blame on a rogue employee.
Defense lawyer Michael van der Veen tried to win over jurors with a mantra straight out of the O.J. Simpson trial: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” The Trump Organization motto was, “Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg.
But the jurors weren’t convinced. After all, those swindling staffers were Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and company Controller Jeffrey McConney, as well as half a dozen other executives who were never charged.
Weisselberg eventually confessed to reducing his on-the-books salary—enabling him to avoid city, state, and federal taxes—and instead to get a ton of perks: a fake $6,000 no-show job for his wife, corporate Mercedes sedans for them both, a luxury Manhattan apartment, and more than $360,000 in private school tuition for their grandkids paid by Donald Trump himself.
Weisselberg and several other executives, including Chief Operating Officer Matthew Calamari Sr., also diverted some of their salary to make it seem as if they were outside contractors, claiming a status that allowed them to pay even fewer taxes.
The ploy enabled the company to reduce the overall size of its payroll, allowing it to pay less in payroll taxes, Medicare, and related expenses.
Two hours after the verdict, Trump issued a statement titled, “MANHATTAN WITCH HUNT!” In it, he reiterated the same arguments that failed to convince the jury: claiming that the company’s CFO acted on his own and misquoting his testimony, which in reality revealed that the company benefited from the fraud as well.
“Disappointed with the verdict in Manhattan, but will appeal,” Trump’s statement said. “New York City is a hard place to be ‘Trump.’”
Research contact: @thedailybeast