The Manhattan district attorney responded Monday to an effort by the Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg to have criminal fraud and tax evasion charges against them dismissed.
Weisselberg and the company asked a judge in January to dismiss the case, which was filed in July 2021, claiming they had been targeted "based on political animus" for their connection to former President Donald Trump. Weisselberg also argued he received immunity against certain federal charges when he testified to a federal grand jury investigating former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Prosecutors said in their filing Monday that the investigation into Weisselberg was actually prompted by a Nov. 2, 2020 Bloomberg article about perks Weisselberg allegedly received.
"The article outlined many of the key facts relevant to the crimes charged," Manhattan prosecutor Solomon Shinerock wrote in Monday's filing.
Former President Trump's eponymous company wasof providing executives with lavish untaxed perks, or "indirect employee compensation." Weisselberg, who had been at Trump's side at the company for decades, was accused of receiving perks — including an apartment and car — worth $1.7 million.
Weisselberg and the company have entered not guilty pleas. Their attorneys could not immediately be reached.
In January's motion to dismiss the charges, they claimed the company and Weisselberg were "improperly targeted" due to politics. They highlighted statements made by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who has been critical of Trump, a Republican. Two attorneys from James' office are assigned to the Manhattan district attorney's investigation.
But in Monday's filing, Shinerock — who has worked on the case under current D.A. Alvin Bragg, and former district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., both Democrats — wrote that his office and James' office were unaware for "several months" in early 2021 that they were both investigating Weisselberg for tax-related crimes.
Weisselberg's lawyers also wrote in January that the charges against Weisselberg should be tossed because he received immunity against certain federal charges when he testified to a federal grand jury investigating former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Shinerock replied that no one on his team "has ever seen or been briefed on the contents of Weisselberg's testimony" against Cohen, but claimed the federal immunity does not apply to the state charges filed against Weisselberg.
The judge in the case has not ruled on the motions to dismiss.
A separate civil probe into the Trump Organization being run by James' office is expected to end soon, and attorneys from that office have indicated it will lead to an "enforcement action." They have not elaborated on what that will be.
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