Prosecutors are on hold in the criminal case against the Trump organization

Manhattan prosecutors called their final witness Monday The criminal case against the Trump Organization.

During their three-week testimony, they profiled a company for which many of the top non-Trump executives have allegedly devised a variety of schemes to avoid income taxes and luxury benefits.

Two Trump Organization companies and former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg have been charged with more than a dozen counts of fraud and tax evasion. No member of the Trump family has been charged in the case. Weisselberg has previously entered a guilty plea in the case and agreed to testify for the prosecution. During his more than three-day testimony, he described how he received annual bonuses that referred to him as an independent contractor and deducted the value of luxury benefits from his income.

Weisselberg said both practices are designed to reduce his and the company’s tax burden.

Defense attorneys dismissed that account, saying Weisselberg deceived the company and betrayed the Trump family’s trust.

Trump's legal troubles
Donald Bender, left, a former accountant for Donald Trump, arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York Monday, November 21, 2022.

Michael Sisak/AP

“Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg,” said a defense attorney during the opening speech. Another Trump executive called by prosecutors, Controller Jeffrey McConney, said he relied on Weisselberg and an outside accountant, Donald Bender, for tax-related decisions.

Prosecutors had previously suggested they could call Bender, a partner at accounting firm Mazars USA who worked on the Trump account for four decades but ultimately decided against it.

Instead, Bender was the first witness summoned by defense attorneys Monday afternoon.

Bender and his team prepared tax returns for the company and for members of the Trump and Weisselberg families for years up until Mazar abruptly ended relations with the Trumps in February.

The firm cited a separate civil investigation by the New York Attorney General in which he recanted a decade of financial statements prepared for the company and Donald Trump and said they should no longer be relied on.

The Trump Organization said in a statement to CBS News at the time it was “disappointed that Mazars decided to separate,” but former President Donald Trump has since taken a more accusatory stance.

β€œThe highly paid accounting firm should have routinely picked up these things – we relied on that. VERY UNFAIR!” Trump wrote on his social media page Truth Social on Nov. 18.

Bender said early in his appearance Monday that he received immunity for testimony he gave to a New York state grand jury investigating the Trump Organization.

The company denies all allegations. Weisselberg is expected to be sentenced to five months in prison under the terms of his plea agreement, which were set out in court. His next hearing is November 28th.


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