Lawyers for the Trump Organization and one of its top executives pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges in a lower Manhattan courtroom on Thursday, as prosecutors alleged a 16-year scheme of brazen fraud and tax evasion by former President Donald Trump’s namesake company.
A grand jury returned a 15-count indictment against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, its chief financial officer, late Wednesday evening. Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office detailed the alleged crimes at Thursday’s initial court appearance and in the 25-page indictment filed in state court.
The indictment alleged the company and Weisselberg orchestrated a scheme to funnel more than $1.7 million in untaxed “indirect employee compensation” to the longtime executive beginning in 2005. Prosecutors said the Trump Organization failed to properly report the payments to tax authorities.
“It was orchestrated by the most senior executives, who were financially benefiting themselves and the company, by getting secret pay raises at the expense of state and federal taxpayers,” Carey Dunne, an assistant district attorney, told the judge.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said the indictment “is an important marker in the ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump Organization and its CFO.”
“This investigation will continue, and we will follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead,” James said in a statement.
Weisselberg and two corporate entities under the Trump Organization were named as co-defendants in the indictment. Weisselberg and attorneys representing the company entered pleas of not guilty on all counts. Mr. Trump himself has not been charged with a crime, and said the decision to bring charges was part of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Weisselberg surrendered to authorities early Thursday morning and was led into the courtroom in handcuffs at the arraignment in the afternoon. He was released on his own recognizance after giving up his passport, and is next due in court on September 20.