Legal analysts have been waiting months, if not years, for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to file criminal charges against Donald J. Trump and his family business. The wait is finally over. They filed the accusations on Thursday against Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longstanding chief financial officer, and certain corporate components of the corporation, based on a 15-year plot to evade taxes on executive and staff compensation.
According to the indictment, The Trump Organization offered rent-free residences, car leases, cash bonuses, and private school tuition as part of its remuneration. However, it failed to explain this income correctly and did not pay the required federal, state, and local taxes.
As part of the conspiracy, Weisselberg, a beneficiary, allegedly neglected to pay personal taxes on this money. According to the Trump Organization, Weisselberg was used as a “pawn in a scorched-earth attempt to destroy the former president.” They dismissed the charges after Weisselberg, and the Trump Organization pleaded not guilty.
But, since the long-awaited indictment has been unsealed, we must wonder what it reveals about these and the likelihood of further criminal charges against more defendants? To begin with, the charges are more severe than previous reports indicated.
In the last few days, stories show the case as one concerning fringe benefits, a rarely prosecuted type of case. While this is a case regarding undeclared income and tax evasion, it has a broader scope than many imagined.
In addition to the plot to defraud in the first degree, the indictment accuses the commission of numerous crimes. This includes grand larceny in the second degree, the second most serious white-collar crime in New York, and record fabrication accusations.
The alleged scam is a 15-year tax evasion operation involving multiple Trump Organization executives and staff. However, there has only been one prosecution thus far. According to District Attorney Cyrus Vance, defendant Weisselberg dodged New York State and City taxes and evaded federal taxes, significantly increasing the prospective tax loss amount.
While state authorities cannot prosecute the federal offense of avoiding federal taxes directly under state law, they can charge the intended extent of the scheme to break state law using the federal loss amount, as done here. This suggests a more severe lawsuit and a bigger headache for Trump and his organization.
Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, and Letitia James, the New York State Attorney General, have been looking into bank and tax crimes. These crimes involve asset inflating and deflating, and hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
One question that remained unanswered on Thursday was whether or not the other aspects of the ongoing investigations will ever be charged. While there are many unknowns, one thing is for sure. As Trump’s vehement reaction to the news shows, Thursday’s indictment is terrible news for the former president. Perhaps, there’s worse news to come.
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