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Jury finds Trump Organization guilty of tax fraud scheme

Former President Donald Trump's company was charged in a 15-year scheme to compensate top executives “off the books” to help them avoid paying taxes.

A jury in New York on Tuesday found the Trump Organization guilty of all charges in a sweeping, 15-year tax fraud scheme that prosecutors said was orchestrated by top executives at the company.

Jurors deliberated for just over a day before returning the guilty verdicts on a total of 17 counts, including scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. The company faces roughly $1.6 million in fines when it's sentenced. The sentencing is expected to take place on Jan. 13, 2023.

“The former president’s companies now stand convicted of crimes. That is consequential. It underscores that in Manhattan we have one standard of justice for all,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg told reporters, calling the underlying case one of “greed and cheating.”

The Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, its former longtime chief financial officer, were indicted last year after a multiyear investigation into the company’s financial practices by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors alleged that two corporations that are a part of the company, Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp., paid their "already highly paid executives," including Weisselberg, even more by "cheating on their taxes” through a series of schemes that included off-the-books perks like luxury cars and free apartments.

In a statement, Bragg said that “the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation got away with a scheme that awarded high-level executives with lavish perks and compensation while intentionally concealing the benefits from the taxing authorities to avoid paying taxes," and the "verdict holds these Trump companies accountable for their long-running criminal scheme."

Trump said in a statement that he was "Disappointed with the verdict in Manhattan, but will appeal."

He called the case "unprecedented" and "a continuation of the Greatest Political Witch Hunt in the History of our Country. New York City is a hard place to be 'Trump,' as businesses and people flee our once Great City!"

Weisselberg, 75, pleaded guilty to 15 felony charges in August and was the prosecutors' star witness. He agreed to pay nearly $2 million in taxes, interest and penalties and serve five months in jail as part of his guilty plea.

The companies argued that Weisselberg, who is still on the Trump Organization's payroll, was the lone bad actor. They contended he masterminded the scheme for his own personal benefit, not the company's.

“We are here today because of one reason and one reason only, because of the greed of Allen Weisselberg,” defense lawyer Susan Necheles said in closing arguments.

Necheles stood by that stance after the verdict.

"This case was all about Allen Weisselberg committing tax fraud on his personal tax returns. Every witness repeatedly testified that President Trump and the Trump family knew nothing about Allen Weisselberg’s actions," she said. "We disagree with the jury's verdict."

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization said, “The notion that a company could be held responsible for an employee’s actions, to benefit themselves, on their own personal tax returns is simply preposterous.”  

Earlier at the trial, which began in late October, Weisselberg and another top official testified that other senior executives also benefitted from the scheme and that the company also benefitted by not having to pay payroll tax and other taxes because of the scams.

 Trump, who was not charged, complained about the case on social media Tuesday morning. After falsely claiming on Truth Social that murder and violent crimes are at an all-time high in New York City, the former president said the district attorney's office had been "fighting a political Witch Hunt for D.C. against 'Trump.'"