How did Donald Trump’s eldest sons, entrusted with running his company when he became president, react when they learned that a top executive was conspiring to evade taxes on lavish corporate perks?
They gave him a raise, according to testimony Friday in the Trump Organization criminal tax fraud trial.
Allen Weisselberg, the company’s longtime chief financial officer, testified that Eric Trump increased his salary by $200,000 after an internal audit prompted by Trump’s 2016 election found that he had been reducing his salary and bonuses because of the cost of Benefits.
The raises increased Weisselberg’s annual pay to $1.14 million, extra money he said he used to pay for things Trump and the company previously owned: Manhattan apartment rentals, Mercedes-Benz cars for himself and his wife, his grandchildren’s school fees. and more.
The company continues to pay Weisselberg $640,000 in salary and $500,000 in vacation bonuses and grounded him only nominally after his arrest in July 2021, reassigning him to senior counsel and moving his office to Trump Tower. He is now on paid vacation.
“Now, even after you pleaded guilty in this case, did the company cut your salary by a penny?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Weisselberg on the third and final day of her testimony.
“Did not say.
“Even with your betrayal of his trust?” she asked.
Weisselberg testified that Eric and Donald Trump Jr., both executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, knew from the audit that Weisselberg had failed to report his apartment as taxable income, as required by law.
Weisselberg told jurors that he stopped scheming after the audit and soon asked Eric Trump for a raise, telling him that “since the practice was no longer running, I would need some additional income to pay for those expenses.”
Weisselberg said Eric Trump, who runs the company’s day-to-day operations, signed off on his raise and is now in line to approve another $500,000 vacation bonus, even as Weisselberg prepares to move to the city’s infamous Rikers Island jail complex. from New York.
Other executives accused of conspiring to evade taxes also kept their jobs and salaries, Weisselberg said. They include his son, former Central Park ice rink manager Barry Weisselberg, and the company’s chief operating officer, Matthew Calamari Sr.
Weisselberg, 75, pleaded guilty in August to receiving $1.7 million in unofficial compensation. His plea agreement requires him to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a five-month prison sentence. Weisselberg, who was facing up to 15 years in prison, said he previously turned down an offer of one to three years in prison.
Manhattan prosecutors allege that the Trump Organization helped top executives avoid paying taxes on profits paid by the company and is responsible for Weisselberg’s wrongdoing because he was an “agent of senior management” acting on their behalf.
The tax fraud case is the only trial to emerge from the Manhattan district attorney’s three-year investigation into Trump and his business practices. If he is found guilty, the company could be fined more than $1 million and face difficulties doing business.
Weisselberg’s testimony on Friday suggests that key Trump Organization executives, members of Trump’s family, tolerated his behavior once it was discovered, rather than fire him and alert authorities. Weisselberg said the scheme benefited the company because it did not have to pay him as much in salary.
The company’s lawyers, however, argue that the Trumps are deeply loyal, emphasizing how Weisselberg was “among the most trustworthy people they knew” and how they continue to support him, even as he acknowledged betraying them. His lawyers are being paid by the company.
The company’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, when questioning Weisselberg on cross-examination, noted that even “at the worst moment of his life,” Trump “has not kicked him to the curb.” But, the lawyer asked, “you don’t understand that that means he approves of what he did, do you?”
“No,” Weisselberg said.
Trump, who announced on Tuesday that he would Will run for president again in 2024 , appear at the trial. But he said Friday that he has been following, defending Weisselberg and attacking prosecutors in Truth Social posts.
Trump wrote that the case had “fallen apart” after Weisselberg testified Thursday that neither Trump nor the Trump family were involved in his tax evasion scheme.
“Did a longtime executive pay taxes on the use of a company car, or a company apartment, or payments (we don’t even take them as a tax deduction!) for his grandchildren’s education? Is this why they give you handcuffs and jail? Trump wrote, describing the situation as “VERY UNFAIR!”
Trump was elected president in November 2016, bringing new scrutiny to his Trump Organization, a private entity through which he and his family manage their golf courses, luxury towers and other investments.
Weisselberg said that he and another executive, Jeffrey McConney, decided at the time that the company needed to end some of its dubious wage practices. They brought in a lawyer from Washington who conducted an audit and wrote a memo of his findings.
McConney, the senior vice president and controller, falsifies payroll records to reduce Weisselberg’s income taxes. He received immunity and testified earlier in the trial.