Trump’s Former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, in Negotiations Over Perjury Plea

Trump’s Former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, in Negotiations Over Perjury Plea

Allen H. Weisselberg, a longtime lieutenant to Donald J. Trump, is negotiating a deal with Manhattan prosecutors that would require him to plead guilty to perjury, people with knowledge of the matter said.

As part of the potential agreement with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Mr. Weisselberg would have to admit that he lied on the witness stand in Mr. Trump’s recent civil fraud trial, the people said.

Mr. Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer at Mr. Trump’s family business, also would have to say that he lied under oath during an interview with the New York attorney general’s office, which brought the civil fraud case.

The situation springs from a web of criminal and civil cases brought by the two agencies and would culminate a lengthy pressure campaign by the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, whose prosecutors had sought Mr. Weisselberg’s cooperation as they investigated whether Mr. Trump committed electoral and financial crimes. Even without Mr. Weisselberg’s cooperation, they indicted Mr. Trump last year in the election-related case, which is scheduled for trial in late March.

The deal being negotiated would most likely not require Mr. Weisselberg, 76, to turn on his former boss. Although Mr. Weisselberg was involved in the action at the heart of that case — a hush-money payment meant to bury a potential sex scandal just before the 2016 election — prosecutors are not expected to call him as a witness. And the investigation that most required Mr. Weisselberg’s help, the district attorney’s inquiry into Mr. Trump’s finances, may no longer be a priority for prosecutors.

Although the potential agreement is unlikely to immediately affect Mr. Trump, it could strengthen Mr. Bragg’s hand before the former president’s trial. It could deter other witnesses in Mr. Trump’s circle from lying on the stand. And perjury charges could discredit Mr. Weisselberg, who has disputed details of the prosecution’s evidence in the case involving the 2016 election.

Yet Mr. Weisselberg, a fiercely loyal aide who for decades oversaw the finances of Mr. Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, already had a credibility problem: It will be his second guilty plea in Manhattan in two years.

Mr. Weisselberg previously admitted that he orchestrated a scheme to award himself and other Trump Organization executives off-the-books luxuries. He went to jail on Rikers Island for about 100 days, and while he was there, the district attorney’s office warned him that it could file new charges.

Mr. Bragg’s office renewed that threat after the fraud trial last month, according to the people with knowledge of the matter, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential negotiations. That set the plea negotiations in motion. If the two sides don’t agree, the district attorney’s office could seek to indict Mr. Weisselberg.

Prosecutors often argue that perjury — particularly in a high-profile trial — undermines the broader ends of justice and cannot be ignored.

But Mr. Trump’s legal team has decried what it believes is an overzealous prosecution in service of a larger pursuit of Mr. Trump, and has argued it would be unfair to send Mr. Weisselberg — a septuagenarian with no violent history — to jail for a second time.

Mr. Weisselberg’s lawyer, Seth Rosenberg, declined to comment through a spokesman for his firm, Clayman Rosenberg Kirshner & Linder. A lawyer for Mr. Trump declined to comment as well, but the former president has previously accused Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, of carrying out a politically motivated witch hunt against him and Mr. Weisselberg.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg declined to comment.

It is not yet clear whether, if the deal happens, Mr. Weisselberg would plead guilty to a low-level felony or a misdemeanor, or what his sentence might be.

It is also unclear which of Mr. Weisselberg’s statements in the civil fraud case caught prosecutors’ attention — but trial transcripts offer hints.

In 2022, the attorney general, Letitia James, sued Mr. Trump, his adult sons and Mr. Weisselberg, accusing them of fraudulently exaggerating the value of the former president’s assets to obtain favorable loans from banks. One such asset was Mr. Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower, which is 10,996 square feet, but had been listed for years on his annual financial statements as measuring 30,000 square feet.

While testifying, Mr. Weisselberg claimed that he “never focused” on the unit.

Shortly thereafter, Forbes magazine published an article contending that Mr. Weisselberg had lied under oath. The article cited emails and notes between the former chief financial officer and the magazine, which compiles a list of America’s richest people, showed that Mr. Weisselberg “played a key role in trying to convince Forbes over the course of several years” of the apartment’s value.

After that article was published, Mr. Weisselberg abruptly stopped testifying.

Mr. Weisselberg was also questioned under oath in 2020 about the triplex during an interview with Ms. James’s office, statements that might now also be under scrutiny by the district attorney’s office.

A plea would cap a legal odyssey for Mr. Weisselberg. After decades of serving the Trump family outside the public eye, his life was upended in the summer of 2021, when Mr. Bragg’s predecessor filed criminal charges against him and the Trump Organization for a tax fraud scheme involving the luxury perks.

In August 2022, Mr. Weisselberg pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Mr. Trump’s company. After the Trump Organization was convicted of tax fraud and other crimes that year, the judge, Juan M. Merchan, decided that Mr. Weisselberg had testified truthfully as the deal had required.

But none of Mr. Weisselberg’s testimony had damaged Mr. Trump personally. In fact, Mr. Weisselberg never provided evidence implicating the former president in any case.

Mr. Weisselberg went to jail in early 2023, but not before Mr. Trump’s company awarded him a $2 million severance package that required him not to cooperate with any law enforcement investigation unless legally required.

In April, while Mr. Weisselberg was on Rikers Island, Mr. Bragg announced criminal charges against Mr. Trump stemming from what prosecutors say was the cover-up of the sex scandal in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors also renewed their pressure campaign while Mr. Weisselberg was behind bars. They offered him a way out: Cooperate with the district attorney’s office against Mr. Trump and avoid further jail time. Mr. Weisselberg still didn’t budge.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top