Trump Organization sentenced in tax fraud case, fined $1.6 million

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Friday, January 13, 2023
Trump Organization fined over $1 million for tax fraud
A judge in Manhattan sentenced the Trump Organization on Friday for a "multi-dimensional scheme" to evade taxes. NJ Burkett reports.

NEW YORK CITY -- Donald Trump's company was fined $1.6 million Friday for a scheme in which the former president's top executives dodged personal income taxes on lavish job perks - a symbolic, hardly crippling blow for an enterprise boasting billions of dollars in assets.

A fine was the only penalty a judge could impose on the Trump Organization after its conviction last month for 17 tax crimes, including conspiracy and falsifying business records.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office had asked for the maximum fine of more than $1.6 million.

While a prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, conceded the amount is a fraction of the company's earnings, he called the scheme it was convicted of "far-reaching and brazen."

"The sheer magnitude of this fraud merits the largest financial sanction authorized by law," Steinglass said. "The defendants cultivated a pervasive culture of fraud."

The scheme helped former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg alone evade nearly $2 million in taxes by compensating him off-the-books in the form of rent, car leases and private school tuition payments.

Weisselberg has paid back his unpaid taxes plus interest and was sentenced this week to five months in jail at Rikers Island.

Trump himself was not on trial and denied any knowledge of his executives evading taxes illegally. In a statement released after sentencing, the Trump Organization said it did nothing wrong and would appeal.

"These politically motivated prosecutors will stop at nothing to get President Trump and continue the never ending witch-hunt which began the day he announced his presidency," it said.

Neither the former president or his children, who helped run and promote the Trump Organization, were in the courtroom.

"A number of these fraudulent practices were explicitly sanction from the top down," Steinglass said during the sentencing hearing.

Judge Juan Merchan imposed the maximum sentence and scolded the defense for continuing to blame the company's accountant for the fraud.

"It's not what the evidence has showed and it's not what the jury found," Merchan said.

He gave the company 14 days to pay.

While the fines - less than the cost of a Trump Tower apartment - aren't big enough to impact the company's operations or future, the conviction is a black mark on the Republican's reputation as a savvy businessman as he mounts a campaign to regain the White House.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)