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Trump Organization ordered to pay $1.6 million fine for criminal tax fraud

Trump Organization guilty in tax fraud trial
New York jury finds Trump Organization guilty on all counts in tax fraud case 03:25

Two Trump Organization companies were ordered to pay a $1.6 million fine at sentencing Friday, after a jury last month unanimously found them guilty of 17 counts related to tax fraud. The fine imposed by Judge Juan Merchan was the maximum penalty allowed in the case — double the amount of the taxes avoided.

Executives at the two companies, called the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation, were found to have illegally reduced payroll liability through a variety of schemes, including giving executives untaxed bonuses and high-end perks worth millions. 

Former President Donald Trump was not personally charged in the case and has denied any knowledge of the scheme, but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said Trump remains under investigation. 

After the sentencing, Bragg said he would like state law to change to allow higher fines for companies that commit "this type of decade-plus systemic, egregious fraud." Bragg said the sentencing "closes this important chapter of our ongoing investigation into the former president and his businesses."

"We now move on to the next chapter," Bragg said. He did not respond to questions about whether Trump himself might be charged. 

The company's longtime former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, was sentenced Tuesday to five months in New York City's Rikers Island jail. Weisselberg entered a guilty plea in August and testified against the company as part of a deal with prosecutors. 

At the sentencing hearing Friday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said the companies' conduct "can only be described as egregious." And he asserted, "A number of these actions were implicitly sanctioned from the top down."

Defense attorney Susan Necheles reiterated that the companies will be appealing the conviction."The D.A., as usual, or again, does not understand the tax law, and that was part of what was wrong in this case," she said.

Weisselberg's three days of testimony included detailed descriptions of several methods used by the company and its executives to skate on taxes. He also said that Trump and two of his children played a role by signing checks in some of the schemes, though he denied that they authorized or conspired in the fraud. Steinglass said during the trial that the evidence and Weisselberg's testimony showed Trump "explicitly sanctioning tax fraud."

Defense attorneys said Trump was unaware of the schemes playing out beneath him, while prosecutors said he signed off on them. 

The Trump Organization's lawyers said Trump and his company were "betrayed" by Weisselberg, saying repeatedly, "Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg."

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