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Trump Organization criminal trial put on hold after witness tests positive for Covid

Jeffrey McConney, a top executive at the company, had already testified that Donald Trump was aware of some off-the-books payments to longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg.
Trump Organization senior vice president and controller Jeffrey McConney
Trump Organization Senior Vice President and Controller Jeffrey McConney walks into court in New York on Tuesday.Seth Wenig / AP

The criminal trial focused on the Trump Organization was delayed until next week after a witness tested positive for Covid on Tuesday.

Jeffrey McConney, the senior vice president and controller at the company, tested positive shortly after he testified that former President Donald Trump had been aware of some off-the-books payments to longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who is on paid leave from the organization.

It was the second day of trial testimony.

McConney, the first witness to be called, had been coughing frequently since he took the stand Monday. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said McConney had indicated he was not feeling well during Tuesday's lunch break.

The judge, acting state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, adjourned the case until Monday.

McConney’s testimony has largely focused on Weisselberg, who was indicted alongside the Trump Organization in connection with allegations of a tax fraud scheme last year after years of investigation into the company’s financial practices by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 felony charges in August and has agreed to testify against the company.

Weisselberg, 75, was the biggest beneficiary of the tax scheme, receiving $1.76 million in “indirect employee compensation” from the company, according to court filings, including a rent-free apartment, expensive cars, private school tuition for his grandchildren and new furniture.

McConney acknowledged on the stand that Trump signed $359,000 in checks for tuition for Weisselberg's grandchildren in the years before he was elected president. Trump has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

In her opening statement Monday, Trump Corp. lawyer Susan Necheles said that Weisselberg was the tax cheat and that “the evidence will be clear that Donald Trump did not know that Allen Weisselberg was cheating on his personal taxes.”

Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. are two corporations that are a part of the Trump Organization.

Weisselberg had been expected to testify next week, but McConney's illness is likely to push his testimony to mid-November.