New York –
How did Donald Trump’s eldest son — who took over his company when he became president — react when he learned that a senior executive was plotting to evade taxes on lavish corporate franchises?
That gave him a raise, according to testimony Friday at the Trump Organization tax evasion trial.
Eric Trump raised his salary by $200,000, Allen Weisselberg, the company’s longtime chief financial officer, said after an internal audit prompted by Trump’s 2016 election found he was cutting his salary, salary and bonuses because of the cost of benefits.
The increases brought Weisselberg’s annual salary to $1.14 million, and the extra money he said he used to pay for things Trump and the company once owned: a Manhattan apartment rental, Mercedes-Benz cars for him and his wife, tuition for his grandchildren and suites.
The firm continued to pay Weisselberg $640,000 in salary and $500,000 in vacation bonuses, sanctioned him only nominally after his July 2021 arrest, reassigned him to a top attorney and moved his office to Trump Tower. He is now on paid leave.
“Now, even after pleading guilty in this case, did the company cut your salary by a penny?” prosecutor Susan Hofinger-Weisselberg asked on the third and final day of her testimony.
He said no.”
“Even with your betrayal of their trust?” she asked.
” right. “
Weisselberg testified that Eric and Donald Trump Jr., both executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, learned through an audit that Weisselberg had not reported his apartment as taxable income, as required by law.
Weisselberg told jurors that he stopped telling the events after careful consideration and quickly demanded a raise from Eric Trump, telling him that “since the practice is no longer going on, I’m going to need some extra income to pay for it.” these expenses.
Weisselberg said Eric Trump, who runs the company’s day-to-day operations, has signed off on his relationship and is now set to agree to another $500,000 furlough bonus — even as Weisselberg prepares to move to New York’s notorious Rikers prison complex. .
Other executives accused of conspiring to avoid taxes have kept their jobs and paid salaries, Weisselberg said. They include his son, former Central Park ice rink manager Barry Weisselberg and the company’s chief operating officer, Matthew Calamari Sr.
Weisselberg, 75, pleaded guilty in August to $1.7 million in unrecorded damages. His consent to confess requires that he testify before the prosecution in exchange for a five-month prison sentence. Weisselberg, who faced up to 15 years in prison, said he had previously turned down an offer of one to three years in prison.
Manhattan prosecutors allege the Trump Organization helped top executives avoid paying taxes on franchises paid by the company and is liable for Weisselberg’s wrongdoing because he was a “key administrative official” acting on his behalf.
The tax evasion case is the only lawsuit to emerge from the Manhattan attorney general’s three-year investigation into Trump and his business practices. If convicted, the company could be fined more than $1 million and struggle to close deals.
Weiselberg’s testimony on Friday indicates that senior Trump Organization leaders — members of the Trump family — turned a blind eye to his behavior once it was discovered, rather than firing him and alerting authorities. Weisselberg said the plan benefited the company because it didn’t have to pay as much salary.
However, the firm’s lawyers argue that Trump is fiercely loyal, pointing out that Weisselberg was “among the most trusted people they know” and how they continued to support him, even as he admitted his infidelity to them. The firm pays its lawyers.
The company’s attorney Alan Futerfas, who cross-examined Weisselberg, noted that “at the worst time of your life, Trump hasn’t kicked you yet.” But the lawyer asked, “You don’t understand that means he agrees with what you did, do you?”
No, Weisselberg said.
Trump, who announced on Tuesday he would run for president again in 2024, is not expected to stand trial. But he indicated on Friday that he was going after him, defending Weisselberg, and attacking plaintiffs in Truth Social posts.
Trump wrote that the case “collapsed” after Weisselberg testified Thursday that neither Trump nor the Trump family were involved in his tax evasion scheme.
“Did a former executive pay taxes on the use of a company car, company apartment, or on payments (which we didn’t even take as a tax deduction!) for the education of his grandchildren. Is that why he was handcuffed and imprisoned?” Trump wrote, calling the situation “totally unfair!” »
Trump was elected president in November 2016, bringing renewed scrutiny of his Trump Organization, the private entity through which he and his family run golf courses, luxury towers and other investments.
Weisselberg said he and another CEO, Jeffrey McCone, decided at the time that the company needed to end some questionable compensation practices. They brought in a lawyer from Washington who did an audit and wrote a memorandum of my findings.
Maconie, Senior Vice President and Comptroller, manipulates payroll records to reduce Weisselberg’s income taxes. He was granted immunity and testified earlier in the trial.
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