Trump Organization, CFO Weisselberg will be charged Thursday

Erik Larson and Jennifer Jacobs
Bloomberg News
In this file photo from Jan. 11, 2017, Donald Trump along with his children Eric, left, Ivanka and Donald Jr. arrive for a news conference at Trump Tower in New York, accompanied by Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, second from right. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Trump Organization and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg will be charged Thursday, in the first cases to emerge from a multiyear investigation of the former president’s company, people familiar with the matter said.

Weisselberg is expected to turn himself into authorities in the morning, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential matters. Neither Donald Trump nor his sons is expected to be included in the charges, which will be detailed in the afternoon, according to the people. The case, part of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s criminal probe, will involve unpaid taxes on benefits extended to Weisselberg, including a company car and corporate apartment, one of the people said.

A spokesman for Vance’s office declined to comment. Weisselberg’s lawyer, Mary Mulligan, also declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Trump didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jason Miller, a former senior adviser to the ex-president, tweeted that the news is “politically terrible” for Democrats because, instead of Trump, prosecutors will focus on “an innocent 80 year-old man for maybe taking free parking!”

Any charges against Weisselberg, 73, will raise the pressure on the longtime, loyal Trump aide to turn on his boss. Weisselberg has served the family for more than 40 years and is the only person not named Trump whom the ex-president trusts with his money. He’s negotiated Trump’s loans, is a co-signer on his accounts, helps arrange his taxes, and, with Trump’s sons Don Jr. and Eric, oversaw the trust that held all of Trump’s assets while he was in office.

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As for the company, “the direct consequences of any criminal conviction could be a massive fine or it could include some type of probation,” said Miriam Baer, a former federal prosecutor now a professor of corporate and white-collar crime at Brooklyn Law School. “It might also include some type of court supervision.”

Vance’s investigation initially looked at the Trump Organization’s reimbursement, through Weisselberg’s office, of hush-money payments made by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer. In the run-up to the 2016 election, Cohen paid two women claiming to have had affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.

The district attorney’s investigation has since grown into a review of the company’s dealings with a variety of outside business entities, including Deutsche Bank AG and Ladder Capital, where one of Weisselberg’s sons works. Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Letitia James joined the probe, after spending many months looking at the company’s business practices, including its valuation of properties.

The matter has already been twice to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered Trump’s accountants at Mazars LLP to turn over his tax returns and business records to Vance. The D.A. obtained them in February.

Since then, prosecutors have focused on Weisselberg. In an effort to gain leverage over him, they have examined an array of perks that the Trump Organization bestowed on favored employees, including his son, Barry Weisselberg, who managed Trump-run New York City properties like Wollman Rink before those concessions were revoked by Mayor Bill de Blasio this year. He was provided a rent-free apartment in a Trump building starting in 2005, Bloomberg reported.

The Trump Organization also paid the private-school tuitions for Allen Weisselberg’s grandchildren. Such perks are usually taxable as income, and intentional failure to report them would be a crime.

In a June 28 statement, Trump railed against the prosecutors, calling them “rude, nasty, and totally biased” in their investigation. “They will do anything to stop the MAGA movement (and me),” he said, referring to his campaign slogan to “make America great again.”

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(Bloomberg’s Greg Farrell, Patricia Hurtado, David Voreacos, Caleb Melby and Mark Niquette contributed to this report.)