Trump Organization could face criminal charges in NY

Trump Organization could face criminal charges in New York

Any indictment would be the first to emerge from the long-running investigation into Trump

Trump’s lawyers met Thursday with senior prosecutors in the district attorney’s office. Credit: Reuters Photo

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has informed Donald Trump’s lawyers that it is considering criminal charges against his family business, the Trump Organization, in connection with fringe benefits the company awarded a top executive, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

The prosecutors had been building a case for months against the executive, Allen Weisselberg, as part of an effort to pressure him to cooperate with a broader inquiry into Trump’s business dealings. But it was not previously known that the Trump Organization also might face charges

If the case moves ahead, the district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., could announce charges as soon as next week, the people said. Vance’s prosecutors have been conducting the investigation along with lawyers from the office of the New York state attorney general, Letitia James.

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Any indictment would be the first to emerge from the long-running investigation into Trump and would raise the startling prospect of a former president having to defend the company he founded, and has run for decades, against accusations of criminal behavior.

Prosecutors recently have focused much of their investigation into the perks that Trump and the company doled out to Weisselberg and other executives, including tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for one of Weisselberg’s grandchildren, as well as rents on apartments and car leases.

They are looking into whether those benefits were properly recorded in the company’s ledgers and whether taxes were paid on them, The New York Times has reported.

Trump’s lawyers met Thursday with senior prosecutors in the district attorney’s office in hopes of persuading them to abandon any plan to charge the company, according to several people familiar with the meeting.

“In my more than 50 years of practice, never before have I seen a district attorney’s office target a company over employee compensation or fringe benefits,” said Ronald Fischetti, a personal lawyer for Trump. “It’s ridiculous and outrageous.”

Still, an indictment of Trump’s company could deal a blow to the former president just as he has started to hold rallies and flirt with a return to politics.

It is unclear whether Trump will ultimately face charges himself. The investigation, which began three years ago, has been wide-ranging, examining whether the Trump Organization manipulated the value of its properties to obtain favorable loans and tax benefits, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

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