Eric Trump gave Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg a $200,000 raise in 2019 even after learning that Weisselberg had been committing tax fraud by taking compensation off the books and falsifying his W2 tax filings, Weisselberg testified in the company’s criminal trial Friday.
The namesake real estate company of former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City for tax evasion. Prosecutors allege that the actions of Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty in August skirting nearly $2 million in income taxes, implicate the company because he was a “high managerial agent” entrusted to act on its behalf.
Weisselberg, who is testifying for the prosecution as part of a plea deal, said Friday that Eric Trump, who was running the Trump Organization while his father was president, learned in 2017 the company had been paying Weisselberg’s rent and other expenses and that Weisselberg had not reported the payments on his W2.
That same year, Weisselberg previously testified, the company began a “clean up” of its financial practices once Donald Trump became president.
Once the Trump Organization stopped paying his rent, his car leases, his grandchildren’s tuition and other personal expenses, Weisselberg said he asked for and received a $200,000 raise to cover the costs.
Prosecutors claimed this showed the company condoned Weisselberg’s illegal conduct.
“In July 2021, when you were charged with 15 crimes in this case, did the company continue to pay you a total of $1.14 million?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.
“Correct,” Weisselberg replied.
Under questioning from defense attorney Susan Necheles, Weisselberg said his continued employment does not represent Donald Trump’s tacit approval of his conduct.
“You do not understand that to mean he approves of what you did, do you?” Necheles asked.
“Correct,” Weisselberg said.
“And now you are in the worst time of your life correct?” Necheles asked.
“I would say yes,” answered Weisselberg.
“And he has not kicked you to the curb?” Necheles asked.
“He has not,” Weisselberg answered.
Weisselberg previously testified that he paid the Trump Organization back by instructing company controller Jeff McConney to reduce his salary and bonus by the same amount as the perks he was receiving.
Hoffinger, however, pointed out to Weisselberg how benefits to the Trump Organization “accrued as a result of the way in which you conducted the tax scheme.”
Weisselberg acknowledged that the company “would save the payroll taxes” when he reduced his salary by the amount of the fringe benefits he was paid under the table.
The defense, though, tried to portray the savings as a drop in the bucket — saying that the company, over an eight-year period, paid more than $53,000 for flowers and $2.5 million for telephone services.
Weisselberg is obligated to testify truthfully in order to fulfill the terms of his plea agreement and receive a five-month sentence — otherwise he’s exposed to five to 15 years in prison.
“You have to make these people happy,” defense attorney Alan Futerfas said while gesturing toward the prosecutors.
“I have to tell the truth,” Weisselberg responded.