Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg worried about prosecutors getting his financial documents in 2018, ex-daughter-in-law says

Jennifer Weisselberg
Trump Organization CFO’s ex-daughter-in-law Jennifer Weisselberg carries boxes of documents and a laptop giving to prosecutors outside her apartment in Manhattan, New York on April 8, 2021.

  • Allen Weisselberg took steps to avoid showing pay stubs as federal prosecutors investigated Michael Cohen, his ex-daughter-in-law says.
  • He struck an unusual rental agreement that’s now leading to her eviction, Jennifer Weisselberg said.
  • The Trump Organization CFO is now a key figure in the Manhattan DA’s probe of the company.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg took measures to keep his financial documents from prosecutors examining the company’s practices as far back as 2018, according to his former daughter-in-law.

In a series of interviews with Insider, Jennifer Weisselberg described in detail how the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, who is reportedly a target in the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into the company, made an unusual housing arrangement for her as she divorced his son, Barry. The arrangement allowed Allen Weisselberg to act as a guarantor on an Upper West Side apartment without showing any proof of income, she said.

Complications from that arrangement arose in recent weeks, as court records show her landlord is trying to evict her – a measure she claims is retaliation for her cooperation with prosecutors.

Allen Weisselberg’s arrangement has allowed her to live in an apartment building managed by one of his friends in the real estate business, she said. The friend, real estate mogul Lawrence Gluck, permitted her to live in the unit without requiring her or Allen Weisselberg to show any proof of income, she said.

Rental agreements typically require tenants and guarantors to show pay stubs or tax forms demonstrating income of at least 40 times the monthly rent amount. Jennifer Weisselberg said the arrangement allowed Allen Weisselberg to avoid showing pay stubs from the Trump Organization.

She also said she preferred to live in a different apartment building, but Allen Weisselberg forced her to live in that location because of Gluck’s closeness to himself and to now-former president Donald Trump.

“I found several other apartments,” Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. “And he said, ‘No, you’re going to have to move. I called Larry Gluck, and because Donald and Larry and I have a long history of doing real estate together for decades. He’s going to allow me to be the guarantor without having to show any actual financial documents.'”

Allen Weisselberg took the measures to ensure no one would see Trump Organization payroll documents, she said.

An attorney for Allen Weisselberg declined to comment.

It’s “highly unusual” for a landlord to agree not to scrutinize a tenant and guarantor’s income to rent out an apartment, according to Samuel Himmelstein, a New York City-based tenant’s rights lawyer.

“I’ve never seen a situation where the landlord didn’t scrutinize the income of the guarantor in that situation,” Himmelstein said. “Because then he’d potentially have two people who weren’t able to cover the rent.”

The Trump Organization CFO was worried about federal prosecutors, according to Jennifer Weisselberg

Jennifer Weisselberg said the rental agreement was struck at a time when federal prosecutors in Manhattan were investigating Michael Cohen, who at the time was a Trump Organization executive and personal lawyer for Donald Trump.

The lease agreement was signed in October 2018 and has been renewed since then, contracts reviewed by Insider show.

Earlier that year, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York raided Cohen’s office. Prosecutors ultimately secured a guilty plea on charges of tax evasion and campaign finance violations for a plot that involved Cohen using Trump Organization funds to pay off and silence Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who said she had an affair with Trump. Trump was openly furious about the investigation and Cohen’s plea agreement.

Allen Weisselberg was worried about becoming ensnared in the investigation himself, his former daughter-in-law said.

“It’s because he didn’t want to share financials during the SDNY investigation,” Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. “He doesn’t want them out there.”

michael cohen trump tower elevator
Michael Cohen in Trump Tower in 2016.

In sentencing memos filed that December, federal prosecutors made clear that Cohen acted at Trump’s direction. As president of the United States, Trump was immune from federal prosecution at the time. Since Trump left office in February of this year, neither federal prosecutors in Manhattan or any other division of the Justice Department have given any public indication that they seek to charge him in the case, as Insider’s C. Ryan Barber and Warren Rojas previously reported.

While federal prosecutors may be leaving the Trump Organization alone, Cohen’s comments and public testimony about how the Trump Organization handles its finances sparked multiple state-level investigations in New York.

Allen Weisselberg is now a key figure in those investigations. Prosecutors are seeking his cooperation and reportedly examining whether he should be charged with criminal conduct.

Allen Weisselberg is a key figure in Trump investigations in New York

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is in the end stages of an investigation into whether the company and Trump himself distorted property valuations in order to reap tax, loan, and insurance benefits. Those acts could lead to charges for tax, wire, and insurance fraud, legal experts say.

That investigation is running in tandem with a probe in the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, which is examining many of the same issues. Vance’s office has empaneled a special grand jury and earlier this month reportedly heard testimony from Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney, who is said to work closely with Allen Weisselberg.

Allen Weisselberg has worked with the Trump family for more than 40 years, overseeing their personal finances in addition to his role as the Trump Organization’s CFO. Prosecutors have been seeking his cooperation to help guide them through the possibly hundreds of thousands of pages of financial documents they already subpoenaed from the company.

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Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Donald Trump Jr. in 2017.

Jennifer Weisselberg has been cooperating with investigators from both offices since last fall. She’s given interviews with investigators several times, she said, and handed over “several boxes of documents” stemming from her divorce, which include financial documents related to the Trump Organization. She told Insider that prosecutors have asked her about how the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg operate, and have pressured family members in order to get Weisselberg to “flip.”

It’s not clear whether Allen Weisselberg has already agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and whether he has been asked to testify in front of the grand jury. Prosecutors typically strive to secure a cooperation agreement with witnesses before calling them before a grand jury, so that the witnesses don’t receive immunity for their testimony.

Jennifer Weisselberg says her former father-in-law is behind an effort to evict her

The legal complications stemming from Jennifer and Allen Weisselberg’s unusual rent agreement have reached a new phase in recent weeks.

In early 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic struck, Jennifer Weisselberg said she lost her job managing musical theater acts and fell behind on rent payments for the apartment.

In November, Columbus Manor LLC, the entity that owns the Upper West Side apartment building, sued Jennifer and Allen Weisselberg and alleged they owed $54,450 in unpaid rent that had accrued since February 2020. The company is owned by Stellar Management, which is run by Lawrence Gluck.

Columbia Manor LLC withdrew the lawsuit on April 29, without Allen or Jennifer Weisselberg filing a response in court, records reviewed by Insider show. CBS News first reported on the existence of the lawsuit.

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that in April, her building manager told her that her back pay was “made whole.” She said the manager, Trevor Matwey, said the back pay was made by a law firm directly through Stellar Management and he could not produce a receipt for her. She told Insider that she believed Allen Weisselberg made the payment.

“They won’t show me proof that it’s been paid,” Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. “Trevor Matwey in the management office said, ‘Jenn, you’re good to go. All of the back pay has been worked out. You’re good. You don’t owe anything.'”

After the lawsuit was withdrawn and believing her rent had been paid, she said she signed papers to renew her lease for May. But on May 18, Columbus Manor LLC filed a new lawsuit, naming only Jennifer Weisselberg as the defendant. The new lawsuit claimed that her lease expired on April 30, that “no renewal is required” for the lease, and that she should be evicted.

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that, because she believes the rent has been made whole, she should not be evicted from her apartment. She believes Allen Weisselberg is behind the eviction lawsuit from Stellar Management because she has cooperated with the investigations into the Trump Organization and spoken to the media about it.

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A DA investigator carries boxes of documents and a laptop from Jennifer Weisselberg outside her apartment in Manhattan, New York on April 8, 2021.

The new lawsuit says that Jennifer Weisselberg should further owe the real estate company the agreed-upon $6,050 monthly rent for the apartment until she leaves the premises. It does not mention the $54,450 the company previously said she owed.

Columbia Manor LLC is seeking to evict Jennifer Weisselberg through an ejection order in New York state court. Himmelstein told Insider that landlords rarely file for eviction through that mechanism without also seeking back rent.

“Typically, the landlords seek possession of the apartment and they also seek the back rent,” Himmelstein said. “So is it unusual that they didn’t also sue for the back rent? Yes, that’s unusual.”

A representative for Gluck and Stellar Management said they would not comment on an individual tenant’s financial situation. Kevin Cullen, the attorney leading the eviction litigation against Jennifer Weisselberg, declined to comment. Matwey didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that she expects to be able to remain in her apartment for now because of New York state’s eviction moratorium, which runs through September. She expects she’ll owe thousands of dollars more in legal fees to fight the lawsuit.

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Allen Weisselberg, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump in Trump Tower in 2017.

She said she has already liquidated part of her 401(k) to pay for ongoing civil litigation with her ex-husband over matrimonial disputes, which she believes Allen Weisselberg controls and finances. The attorney representing Barry Weisselberg in the case didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Jennifer Weisselberg said that the eviction is yet another way her former father-in-law has exerted control over her – and Barry’s – lives. In earlier interviews with Insider, she described how the Trump Organization arranged for the couple to receive perks like apartments and tuition payments in lieu of a regular salary to avoid taxes and influence their decisions.

“It’s so controlling,” she told Insider in March. “Because if you want to leave and make the same money – you live there. If you want to leave, where are you going to live?”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A special grand jury is secretly hearing from witnesses in the Manhattan DA’s Trump investigation. Here’s how it’ll decide whether to bring criminal charges.

Manhattan District Attorney cyrus vance jr da
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in 2020.

  • The Manhattan DA’s office convened a “special grand jury” in its Trump investigation last month.
  • Jurors will decide whether to criminally charge Trump, the Trump Organization, or its executives.
  • Here’s a breakdown of how a special grand jury works, as well as what evidence and witnesses will likely come before jurors as they meet in secret.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In a courtroom in downtown Manhattan, the district attorney’s office is marshaling paperwork and secretly whisking witnesses in front of a “special” grand jury for what may be one of the most consequential criminal cases in the history of the United States.

The grand jury is “special” in two ways. It’ll be convened for six months, rather than one month, which is standard. It also could be asked to do something no one has ever done before: indict a former president.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into Donald Trump’s and the Trump Organization’s finances appears to have reached an advanced stage. Prosecutors are expected to announce whether they’re bringing any criminal charges before the end of the year, and the special grand jury – a group of 23 ordinary citizens – will be the ones to make the final call.

Here’s how the process works.

What does a special grand jury do?

The precise rules for grand juries and criminal charges vary by state. Under New York law, which governs the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, a felony charge – a criminal charge that would result in a year or more in prison – may go to trial only if a grand jury decides to file an indictment.

A grand jury in New York consists of 23 people. Sixteen jurors must be present in order to make charging decisions, and 12 must vote in favor of bringing an indictment. They must meet in secret and are not permitted to discuss the case with anyone outside the jury. Grand juries can also issue subpoenas and compel witnesses to testify.

Most grand juries meet for one month and hear multiple cases. According to The Washington Post, the Manhattan DA has empaneled a “special” grand jury that will last up to six months in order to hear evidence from the Trump investigation and decide whether to bring an indictment.

Special grand juries are typically empaneled to review evidence for more sophisticated cases like Trump’s, which spanned two years and involves possibly millions of pages of documents. Court documents suggest that the office of Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. has been investigating whether the Trump Organization, its executives, or Donald Trump himself broke tax laws by keeping two sets of books. One set would have shown assets of little value, in order to pay little in taxes; another would have shown significant profits in order to receive favorable loan and insurance rates. Legal experts expect Vance to make a case for tax, bank, and insurance fraud charges.

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Donald Trump in 2020.

A judge may extend the special grand jury beyond the allotted six months, though Vance is widely expected to announce a charging decision before he retires at the end of December. The special grand jury, like regular grand juries, may also hear more than one case depending on how Vance’s office decides to schedule it.

Grand juries are meant to function as a check on government power. Prosecutors need to convince a majority of jurors that there’s probable cause to charge someone with a crime; only then can a case go to trial.

“The grand jury was designed to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, government, before you just start taking anybody you feel like to trial and convicting them and tossing them into jail or cutting their heads off, we’re going to make you present evidence first and satisfy a group of people to show that we have a case,'” said Randy Zelin, an attorney at Wilk Auslander LLP and former prosecutor.

But in reality, defense lawyers like Zelin say, grand juries almost always agree with prosecutors.

In a trial, a judge oversees the process, defense lawyers can put up a defense or call their own witnesses, and prosecutors must overcome the challenge of getting a jury to reach a unanimous verdict.

But prosecutors determine which witnesses to bring and what evidence to show a grand jury – and the verdict doesn’t need to be unanimous.

new york state manhattan supreme court
The judge’s bench is seen at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 21, 2020.

What evidence will jurors review?

Earlier this year, Vance’s office won what’s likely the biggest prize in their investigation. After two Supreme Court decisions, the district attorney’s office was finally able to obtain the Trump Organization’s tax documents in February.

Those documents include Trump’s tax returns, which he has fought vociferously to keep from the public and which he has repeatedly lied about. Legal experts say the documents also likely include email communications between Trump Organization officials, insurance brokers, third-party accountants, and banks about what would go into those tax returns. If the communications show that Trump Organization officials sought to distort the true value of the company’s properties, that could amount to tax and wire fraud, according to the legal experts.

Prosecutors have been examining that documentation for months. Now, they will present those documents as exhibits before the grand jury.

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Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg, Donald Trump Jr.

Aside from the subpoenaed tax documents, prosecutors may present jurors with financial documents provided by cooperating witnesses.

Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, obtained seven boxes of documents as part of an acrimonious divorce from Barry Weisselberg, Allen’s son. She gave those documents to prosecutors in the fall, and in interviews with Insider said they may include evidence that Allen Weisselberg distorted employee compensation in a way that may break tax laws.

Barry Weisselberg is also a key Trump Organization employee, as the manager of the cash-only Wollman rink in Central Park. Prosecutors may also be examining documentation about the rink’s operations for potential tax fraud, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The financial documents investigators gathered may be complex and difficult for a grand jury to comprehend. That poses a challenge for Vance’s office. Under New York state law, prosecutors can’t present “hearsay evidence,” or prosecutors’ personal summaries of the evidence, to grand juries. Instead, prosecutors must provide the underlying documentation directly to the jurors.

cyrus vance
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. speaks at a news conference about dismissing some 3,000 marijunana smoking and possession cases in New York City, U.S., September 12, 2018.

Prosecutors can also get third parties to present evidence, including charts and summaries, for them. Vance’s office is working with FTI Consulting, a forensic accounting firm, to analyze Trump’s documents, and those accountants may present their analysis to a grand jury.

“There could be summary charts or analyses that are put together by the person who has done that analysis to help the grand jury understand the documents,” said Rebecca Ricigliano, a former first assistant attorney general for the state of New Jersey and longtime federal prosecutor in Manhattan. “You see that all the time in regular trials where there’s complicated financials or complicated issues concerning voluminous documents.”

What witnesses will jurors hear from?

The person or entities under investigation don’t have any say in who’s called as a witness before a grand jury. It’s up to prosecutors to decide who testifies.

By default, anyone who gets called as a witness in front of a grand jury in New York gets “transactional immunity,” meaning they get total immunity from prosecution for any possible crimes related to their testimony. Transactional immunity protects people from being subpoenaed and forced to incriminate themselves.

It also means prosecutors need to secure cooperating witnesses before going to a grand jury. The names of some of those witnesses in the DA’s investigation are already public.

Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive and personal lawyer for the ex-president, told Insider he’s spoken to prosecutors more than a dozen times. Jennifer Weisselberg has helped prosecutors understand the company’s inner workings, which she’s described as corrupt. Both will likely serve as grand jury witnesses, and both declined Insider’s request to discuss their possible role, saying they don’t want to jeopardize the legal process.

On Friday, ABC News reported that Vance’s office brought Jeff McConney, a senior vice president and controller for the Trump Organization, to testify in front of the special grand jury.

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Michael Cohen.

Prosecutors also may have secured less boldfaced names, like tax preparers at Mazers, the firm used by the Trump Organization, or officials at the insurance firm Aon.

It’s unclear whether prosecutors have secured cooperation from Allen Weisselberg, who is widely viewed as a potential key witness for the case. He’s worked for the Trumps for more than four decades, and knows the company’s as well as the family’s finances inside and out. Prosecutors reportedly want him to testify about those finances.

But prosecutors wouldn’t want to just call Weisselberg as a grand jury witness, which would give him immunity from prosecution for any financial crimes he may have committed in his role as CFO.

Ricigliano noted that people shouldn’t assume Weisselberg will make or break the DA’s case.

“It’s hard to judge whether he’s really a make-or-break figure, or if they have been able to compile the evidence they need from multiple other sources,” Ricigliano, now an attorney at Crowell & Moring, told Insider. “You can build a case like building a house. You can either get a crane to drop down a prefab house, or you can build it brick by brick.”

Does Trump himself play any role?

If Trump himself is a subject of the DA’s probe, he wouldn’t be called as a grand jury witness. If prosecutors want to charge him, giving him transactional immunity would defeat the purpose of their investigation.

Still, if a lawyer knows their client is a subject of a probe, they can serve a “grand jury notice” to the district attorney’s office, Zelin told Insider.

Trump Tower
Then President-elect Donald Trump boards the elevator at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017.

If that notice is served, prosecutors may be forced to inform the special grand jury that a particular witness named by the defense attorney is willing to testify. The jurors may then decide to subpoena the witness, giving that person transactional immunity against the prosecutors’ wishes.

“It’s sometimes a sophisticated and savvy move on a defense attorney’s part,” Zelin said.

To head off that scenario, prosecutors will try to make a deal with potential witnesses – called a cooperation or plea agreement – where they’d testify in front of a grand jury and agree to waive transactional immunity.

“Prosecutors are very strategic in thinking through their presentation of evidence to ensure that they are not immunizing a witness who they shouldn’t be immunizing,” Ricigliano said.

What charging decisions can the special grand jury make?

It’s not clear whether Vance will seek to charge Trump, Trump Organization executives, the company – or not bring charges at all.

Former New York Supreme Court chief judge Sol Wachtler said a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich” if a prosecutor told them to because of the amount of control they have over the process. Zelin said because of that dynamic, grand juries can offer prosecutors political cover.

If prosecutors don’t want to pursue a politically inconvenient case, they can blame the grand jury for not bringing an indictment.

But grand juries can also offer protection: Trump has already attempted to tarnish Vance’s investigation by describing it as politically motivated. If a grand jury brings an indictment against Trump, Vance could persuasively say that fellow citizens, not just his office, believe the former president may have committed a crime.

Mark Pomerantz
Mark F. Pomerantz at the press confernce were former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced his resignation March 12, 2008 in New York City.

Any charging decisions in this case will be controversial. Democrats sore over Trump’s apparent ability to wriggle out of every scandal will be further rattled if he isn’t personally charged. Trump supporters may be scandalized if he’s held responsible for financial wrongdoing that may have been engineered by other executives like Weisselberg.

Daniel R. Alonso, a former top Vance deputy, previously told Insider there’s a good chance the DA may ask the grand jury to bring charges against only the Trump Organization.

Charging the Trump Organization alone would be a smart strategic move that would further puncture Trump’s image as a successful businessman, possibly cut into his family’s reputation, and provoke less backlash from the 74 million people who voted for him, Zelin said.

“An argument could be made that it’s more devastating,” Zelin said. “If you kill the Trump Organization, basically you kill the Trump family’s means and a rather extravagant high-profile and lavish lifestyle.”

cyrus vance jr federal court
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance arrives at federal court for a hearing related to President Donald Trump’s financial records on October 23, 2019 in New York City.

Ricigliano told Insider that prosecutors don’t typically think about political considerations when they bring cases in front of a grand jury.

She emphasized that prosecutors in Vance’s office – as well as prosecutors with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ parallel investigation – gathered massive amounts of information over the course of their two-year probe, and the public only is aware of a small fraction of it.

Those prosecutors will ultimately bring the best case they have based on the evidence, she said.

“I don’t think that prosecutors view the grand juries as potential scapegoats or ways to alleviate pressure,” Ricigliano said. “It’s part of the system that’s been part of the country since the dawn of the revolution.”

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Jennifer Weisselberg says the Trump Org. CFO, her former father-in-law, will flip on Trump in New York investigations

allen weisselberg donald trump
Allen Weisselberg, center, stands between President-elect Donald Trump, left, and Donald Trump Jr., at a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Jan. 11, 2017.

  • Jennifer Weisselberg said Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump Organization, will flip on Trump.
  • She is Allen Weisselberg’s ex-daughter-in-law, and was married to his son Barry.
  • Jennifer Weisselberg has also been cooperating with prosecutors who are investigating Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jennifer Weisselberg said Allen Weisselberg, her former father-in-law and the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, will flip on Donald Trump.

Weisselberg was speaking to CNN Thursday about the New York investigations into the Trump Organization and the former president. Interviewer Erin Burnett asked her directly: “Will Allen Weisselberg flip on Trump?”

She responded with a simple “yes,” prompting Burnett to note there was “no hesitation” with her answer.

Read more: Meet Donald Trump’s next nemeses: The 15 prosecutors and investigators from New York who are primed to pepper the ex-president with history-making civil and criminal probes

Weisselberg was married to Allen Weisselberg’s son, Barry Weisselberg, from 2014 to 2018. Trump and his wife attended their wedding and Weisselberg was also present at Trump’s inauguration. Since September she has been cooperating with prosecutors who are investigating Trump’s finances, and has turned over several boxes of documents and a laptop.

Trump is under two investigations in New York. The New York attorney general’s office announced Tuesday it is investigating the Trump Organization “in a criminal capacity,” as opposed to a civil one. The Manhattan district attorney’s office is also conducting a criminal investigation into whether the Trump Organization committed tax and insurance fraud, among other crimes.

Both offices are also looking into the taxes and personal finances of Allen Weisselberg with the hopes of gaining leverage that could convince him to cooperate with prosecutors in the Trump investigations, CNN reported Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, said that he believes Trump will be the one to turn on everyone else involved in the investigations into the Trump Organization, including his own children.

Weisselberg also told Burnett that while attending Trump’s inauguration in 2017 it felt “dangerous” for him to become president.

“The amount of power given to a president – I just think it’s irresponsible to give somebody who is self-serving and narcissistic that much power when it’s inevitably always to benefit themselves,” she said.

When asked why she is cooperating with prosecutors now, Weisselberg said it’s because “it’s so horrifying that Donald Trump could be president again, knowing what I know.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The New York Attorney General’s announcement about a ‘criminal’ Trump Organization probe could flip more witnesses

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Prosecutors in New York are examining the finances of former President Donald Trump.

  • The New York AG’s office said its investigation into the Trump Organization is criminal in nature.
  • The unusual announcement could help shake out more cooperating witnesses, legal experts say.
  • By working closely with the Manhattan DA, the NYAG signaled a low chance of legal turf fights.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The New York Attorney General’s unusual announcement that its investigation into the Trump Organization is now criminal could be part of a strategy to shake loose more cooperating witnesses, according to legal experts.

Late Tuesday night, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office first told CNN that its investigation was being conducted “in a criminal capacity.”

The spokesperson also said prosecutors were working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which has so far been running its own separate investigation into former president Donald Trump’s and the Trump Organization’s finances.

“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature,” Fabien Levy, New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s press secretary, told Insider. “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”

The statement struck legal observers as unusual.

The New York Attorney General’s and Manhattan District Attorney’s offices rarely make public comments about the progress of ongoing investigations – unless they’re highlighting some victory in court. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. commented on winning Supreme Court cases to subpoena Trump’s tax documents, and New York Attorney General Letitia James addressed the subpoena of Eric Trump. Both offices declined Insider’s requests for comment beyond Levy’s statement.

An attorney representing Jennifer Weisselberg, a cooperating witness in both investigations who was married to the son of the Trump Organization’s CFO, said he had already been in contact with attorneys from the criminal division of James’ office.

Duncan Levin told Insider the notion that James’ investigation was criminal in nature “did not come as news” to him, nor was it news that her attorneys were teaming up with Vance’s.

“They’ve told us previously that they’re coordinating their efforts with the DA’s office,” he said. “We understand that they’re in touch with each other and that they’re coordinating their investigations together. We’ve known that for a while.”

Shaking loose more cooperating witnesses

Prosecutors in both offices are said to be examining whether the former president or his company committed financial crimes by keeping two sets of books: one that presented a rosy portrait of finances to secure favorable insurance and loan terms, and another that showed more dire figures in order to evade taxes.

Jeff Robbins, a former attorney for the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, oversaw money-laundering probes as a federal prosecutor. He said the statement from James’ office was likely designed to “shake loose” more people in Trump’s orbit who could cooperate.

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Michael Cohen leaves federal court on Aug. 21, 2018, in New York.

Some potential witnesses or cooperators may have decided there was limited risk in ignoring prosecutors’ phone calls in a civil investigation; there’s a bigger risk if they don’t cooperate with a criminal investigation, he said.

“One possible calculation in making this announcement yesterday is to announce to those people: ‘You know what, the time for standing on the sidelines is over,'” Robbins, now the co-chair of the Congressional Investigations practice at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, told Insider.

High-profile people in Trump’s orbit already know that prosecutors have been seeking their cooperation. Michael Cohen, for example, has testified around a dozen times for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization CFO, appears to have rebuffed requests for cooperation.

But peripheral figures – former rank-and-file employees, tax preparers, insurance analysts, accountants – can still be helpful for prosecutors, according to Randy Zelin, a professor at Cornell Law School and white-collar criminal defense attorney at Wilk Auslander LLP. He said Tuesday’s announcement could bring them out of the shadows.

“The announcement is meant to do a couple of things, the most important of which just to continue to shake people up,” Zelin told Insider. “Anyone who in Trump’s orbit hearing that announcement is probably, aside from the sphincter tightening, they’re immediately on the phone with their lawyer.”

Robbing Trump and his company of a strategy to challenge potential charges

It’s not clear whether the Manhattan DA or New York AG will bring charges and, if they do, what those charges may be. Prosecutors could charge Trump personally; charge only the Trump Organization; charge certain executives; or they may not bring charges at all.

In a 909-word statement Wednesday, Trump derided the investigations as illegitimate and politically motivated.

The announcement of closer cooperation between the two offices could make it harder for Trump or the Trump Organization to evade litigation, however.

Defendants often try to dismiss or delay court proceedings based on jurisdictional issues. Vance’s office may have the authority to bring certain charges that James’s office doesn’t, and vice versa.

donald trump tower elevator
Donald Trump boards the elevator in Trump Tower in 2017.

It’s common for defendants to argue the prosecutor who brought a case doesn’t have the authority to do so, and ask a judge to dismiss the case on those grounds. Prosecutors also sometimes try to take credit for major cases by claiming they have the sole authority to bring charges.

But the announcement that James’ office is working with Vance’s suggests they’ve worked out jurisdictional turfs between themselves, Zelin told Insider, making it less likely that Trump or his company can tie up their potential cases in the courts.

“There are times when there’s a clash of egos. And there are times when egos get put aside and there’s enough for everyone,” Zelin said. “I think here – when you’re talking about going after the former president of the United States, which in and of itself is going to be a daunting task – the agencies are very happy to say, OK, let’s divide and conquer here.”

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The ex-daughter-in-law of Trump’s CFO handed over boxes of financial records and a laptop to Manhattan prosecutors

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Donald Trump attends the D-day Commemorations on June 05, 2019 in Portsmouth, England.

  • Jennifer Weisselberg delivered boxes of financial records and a laptop to prosecutors Thursday.
  • Weisselberg is the ex-daughter-in-law of the Trump Organization’s longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg.
  • She is cooperating with investigations into Trump’s personal finances and those of his company.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jennifer Weisselberg handed over boxes of financial records to investigators with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Thursday as part of the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s finances.

Weisselberg is the ex-wife of Barry Weisselberg, son of the Trump Organization’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. Weisselberg’s lawyer previously told Insider’s Jacob Shamsian that she was cooperating with the investigation and had “several boxes of documents” left to deliver.

Weisselberg was seen Thursday morning transporting three boxes of records as well as a laptop from her building, The Washington Post reported.

Duncan Levin, an expert in financial fraud and Weisselberg’s attorney, told Insider he was hired to help her sort through the documents and “turn over documents and information to law enforcement as is helpful.”

Read more: A Trump appointee who drank vodka and had sex on the General Services Administration building’s roof is back with a new political committee, documents show

“She has joint-bank-account information, credit cards, tax records, tax returns – that’s the meat of what we’re looking at to see what types of patterns we might be able to find,” he said.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York attorney general are conducting parallel investigations into Trump’s personal finances and those of the Trump Organization. Weisselberg is cooperating with both offices as they look into whether the former president manipulated the value of his assets for loan and tax purposes.

Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg from 2014 to 2018, and obtained the documents through their divorce. In addition to being CFO at the Trump Organization, his father, Allen Weisselberg, also manages the Trump family’s personal finances.

According to The Post, a subpoena directed Weisselberg to turn over her ex-husband’s records, such as bank and credit card statements, related to the Trump Organization and Central Park’s Wollman Rink, which is run by the company and managed by Allen Weisselberg.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has been trying to “flip” Allen Weisselberg and get him to cooperate with the investigation, The Post reported last month. Allen Weisselberg is believed to be a major focus of the criminal investigation into Trump’s finances, which could be in its final stages.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Trump Org CFO’s ex-daughter-in-law has ‘several boxes of documents’ left to give prosecutors, her lawyer says

donald trump pause mouth anxious
Donald Trump in 2018.

  • Jennifer Weisselberg has more documents to give prosecutors, her lawyer said.
  • She’s the ex-wife of a Trump Org employee and cooperating with investigations into Trump’s finances.
  • Weisselberg hired a former top official in the Manhattan DA’s office to sift through the documents.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jennifer Weisselberg, a cooperating witness in investigations into Donald Trump’s finances, still has “several boxes of materials” she has yet to give prosecutors, her lawyer told Insider.

The attorney, Duncan Levin, said in an interview that he was hired to conduct his own analysis of the reams of documents Weisselberg has, which include Trump Organization financial records and show how intertwined the company is with the Weisselberg family’s finances.

“We’re basically culling through it methodically, and we will turn over documents and information to law enforcement as is helpful,” Levin said.

Weisselberg has been speaking with prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the New York State Attorney General’s office as they investigate the finances of both Trump and the Trump Organization. The offices appear to be running parallel investigations into whether the former president and his company misrepresented the values of properties and other assets in order to pay less in taxes and procure favorable loan terms.

Weisselberg obtained the documents through a contentious divorce from Barry Weisselberg, who she was married to between 2014 and 2018, after a judge forced him to submit for a deposition and subpoenaed his financial information. Barry Weisselberg is the son of Allen Weisselberg, the longtime CFO of the Trump Organization who also manages the Trump family’s personal finances, and is a key Trump Organization employee in his own right as the manager of the company-run Wollman Rink in Central Park.

Read more: The Manhattan DA’s office picked up the pace of its investigation into Trump’s finances once it hired a prosecutor who used to pursue mob bosses, a cooperating witness says

Levin, himself a former top official in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office, is determining which documents might be relevant for the investigations before handing them over.

“She has joint bank account information, credit cards, tax records, tax returns – that’s the meat of what we’re looking at, to see what types of patterns we might be able to find,” Levin said.

Trump himself has disparaged the investigations as politically motivated. Allen Weisselberg’s attorney has declined to comment on his role in the investigations.

Weisselberg’s lawyer is an expert in financial fraud

In an earlier interview with Insider, Weisselberg said she gave “seven boxes of documents” to investigators in both offices, and that she had been cooperating with them since the fall.

She said investigators she spoke with appeared to be interested in information about the Trump Organization’s finances, how the company operates, and in potentially “flipping” her former father-in-law into a cooperating witness himself.

“They picked up documents many times. They ended up taking seven boxes of my documents and scanning them, going through them,” she said, adding that “they took depositions, they took checks, routing numbers, bank-account [information], and things like that.”

cyrus vance jr federal court
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Vance’s investigation in particular appears to be heating up. Shortly after Trump left office, Vance hired Mark Pomerantz, a seasoned prosecutor of white-collar crimes and mob bosses, to help the investigation. Pomerantz has interviewed Jennifer Weisselberg several times, she told Insider. And Vance is widely expected to bring indictments before he leaves office at the end of this year.

“It was my distinct impression that things are heating up and that this investigation is of intense focus for prosecutors at the DA’s office,” Levin said. “They are staffed up and ramped up to investigate every aspect of this that they can.”

Levin, now a partner with his firm Tucker Levin PLLC, worked as the head of the Asset Forfeiture division for Vance between 2011 and 2014. Prior to that, he held positions as a prosecutor at the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and in private practice with Vance, along with an earlier stint at the Manhattan DA’s office under Vance’s predecessor, Robert Morgenthau.

Together with a forensic accountant, Levin said he’s sorting through the remaining documents in Weisselberg’s possession.

“I’ve been building complex financial fraud cases for 20 years now,” Levin said. “I have been in close contact with the prosecutors’ offices. We have indicated to them that we are going through these documents in a very sophisticated way.”

donald trump jr allen weisselberg
Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Donald Trump Jr. in 2017.

Levin said the documents he’s reviewed show just how intertwined the Trump Organization’s finances were with the Weisselberg family’s finances. As Bloomberg News initially reported and Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider, Allen Weisselberg ensured his own family members got perks like apartment buildings and tuition payments through the Trump Organization – benefits that are now being scrutinized by prosecutors.

“I can’t comment on any specific documents that may or may not belong to the Trump Organization, but I can say that the source of funds for their lifestyle was largely from the Trump Organization,” Levin said.

Jennifer Weisselberg previously told Insider that the Trump Organization would give those perks in lieu of raises as a way to control employees.

“They want you to do crimes and not talk about it and don’t leave,” she said. “It’s so controlling.”

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Jennifer Weisselberg said she gave investigators probing Trump’s finances ‘7 boxes of documents’ she got in her divorce from the Trump Org CFO’s son

trump troubled
Donald Trump in September.

  • Jennifer Weisselberg says she gave prosecutors looking into Trump “seven boxes” of documents.
  • The Trump Organization documents came from a divorce case with the company’s CFO’s son.
  • The Manhattan DA’s office got a fuller picture of Trump Org finances after a subpoena in February.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Prosecutors learned details about the Trump Organization’s finances after a key employee tried to withhold them in his divorce case, that employee’s ex-wife told Insider.

The move backfired. The judge in the divorce case forced him to sit for a deposition and hand over the documents as part of a subpoena, according to Jennifer Weisselberg.

Jennifer Weisselberg, now a cooperating witness in investigations into Trump’s finances, said she ultimately got “seven boxes” of financial documents and gave them to investigators last fall.

“They picked up documents many times. They ended up taking seven boxes of my documents and scanning them, going through them,” she told Insider, adding: “They took depositions, they took checks, routing numbers, bank account [information], and things like that.”

Prosecutors in the New York Attorney General’s office and Manhattan District Attorney’s office are running parallel investigations into Trump’s and his company’s finances, looking into whether they distorted financial information in tax and loan documents. The Manhattan DA’s office successfully subpoenaed the Trump Organization for millions of pages of documents in February, gaining a fuller picture of the company’s financial affairs.

But an earlier peek into those finances came in September, when Jennifer Weisselberg handed her documents over. Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg, the son of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, between 2004 and 2018. Barry Weisselberg is also a key employee of the Trump Organization in his own right, managing the Wollman Rink in Central Park in Manhattan.

Barry Weisselberg initially withheld financial information from Jennifer during divorce proceedings, she said. The divorce judge recognized perks he received from the Trump Organization – like their shared apartment – could have monetary value and should be considered during divorce negotiations, she said.

“The judge said there was a lot of imputed money,” Jennifer Weisselberg said. “They subpoenaed a lot of things after Barry’s deposition.”

An attorney representing Barry Weisselberg didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

‘I don’t think they realized that I had that stuff’

Donald and Melania Trump gave Barry and Jennifer Weisselberg an apartment in the Trump Parc East Building in Manhattan as a wedding gift. It was part of many perks the Trump Organizations offered members of the Weisselberg family, as reported by Bloomberg’s Cabe Melby in November.

Following the publication of that article, investigators in the New York Attorney General’s office expressed renewed interest in the documents Jennifer Weisselberg gave them, she said.

“Since the Bloomberg article came out – I don’t think they realized that I had that stuff,” Weisselberg told Insider. “The AG came and they started picking up more boxes.”

donald trump tower standing pose
Donald Trump poses for photographs in his Trump Tower office on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, in New York.

Weisselberg said the perks the Trump Organization offered, like the apartment and payments for their children’s tuition, were used in lieu of normal salary raises. They functionally allowed the company to exercise a measure of control over their lives, she said.

“It’s so controlling,” she continued. “Because if you want to leave and make the same money – you live there. If you want to leave, where are you going to live?”

Jennifer Weisselberg said she’s now glad to have left Trumpworld.

“I don’t want anything to do with them,” she said. “I don’t want their money. I’m good.”

Prosecutors in the Manhattan DA’s office are now interested in “flipping” Allen Weisselberg to guide them through the millions of documents they’ve obtained, according to The Washington Post. They are looking into whether perks like the apartment broke tax laws, according to Bloomberg.

The office recently hired Mark Pomerantz, who has experience as a prosecutor pursuing mob bosses. It also sent a forensic accountant with experience analyzing mob finances to review Jennifer Weisselberg’s documents, she said.

Representatives for the Trump Organization didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment for this story. Representatives for Allen Weisselberg, the Manhattan DA’s office, and the New York Attorney General’s office declined to comment.

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The Trump Organization controlled employees by giving them houses and paying for their kids’ tuition instead of giving raises, the ex-wife of a key employee says

donald trump tower elevator
Donald Trump boards the elevator at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017.

  • The Trump Org uses unusual financial arrangements to control employees, a cooperating witness said.
  • It paid for apartments and tuition instead of normal salary raises, Jennifer Weisselberg said.
  • The Manhattan DA office hired investigators who have experience studying mob finances.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The former wife of a key Trump Organization employee scrutinized by prosecutors said the company holds sway over employees through unusual financial arrangements, including paying for her home and tuition for her children.

“They want you to do crimes and not talk about it and don’t leave,” Jennifer Weisselberg said in an interview with Insider. “It’s so controlling.”

Weisselberg is a cooperating witness in investigations into Donald Trump’s finances. Between 2004 and 2018, she was married to Barry Weisselberg, the son of Trump’s loyal longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg. Barry Weisselberg is also a significant employee for the company in his own right, as the manager of the Trump Organization-operated Wollman Rink in Central Park.

Jennifer Weisselberg said she handed over “seven boxes” of documents that came out of her divorce proceedings to prosecutors. Prosecutors in both the Manhattan District Attorney’s and New York Attorney General’s offices are investigating the finances of Trump and the Trump Organization. The Manhattan DA’s office is analyzing whether they violated tax laws by distorting financial information to receive favorable loan terms and pay little in taxes.

The office successfully subpoenaed millions of pages of tax documents from the Trump Organization in February. Prosecutors there are now seeking to “flip” Allen Weisselberg into guiding them through those pages, the Washington Post reported.

Jennifer Weisselberg says the company retains a grip on key employees by withholding raises. In yearly compensation meetings with Barry Weisselberg, she said, Trump or Allen Weisselberg would offer to pay the tuition of their children instead of giving raises. She said her ex-husband’s base salary didn’t change substantially in the roughly 20 years he’s worked there.

“It was like Allen designing a plan,” she said. ‘It was like, ‘Okay, the way we’re going to maestro this is instead of a raise, we’re going to pay my daughter’s tuition. Instead of a raise, we’re going to pay for the apartment.'”

‘If you want to leave, where are you going to live?’

Donald and Melania Trump gave Jennifer and Barry Weisselberg an apartment in their Trump Parc East building by Central Park in Manhattan as a wedding gift, as Bloomberg News first reported. The couple paid only $400 per month in utilities and other fees – far below the market rate for rent. Prosecutors are examining whether the way the arrangement was reported in tax documents violated tax laws, according to Bloomberg News.

These arrangements, while generous on the surface, also served as a way to keep Trump Organization employees in line, Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider.

“Obviously, it’s not a gift when you get the same salary for 20 years,” she said.

“It’s so controlling,” she continued. “Because if you want to leave and make the same money – you live there. If you want to leave, where are you going to live?”

donald trump tower sitting desk smiling smile
Donald Trump at his desk in his office in Trump Tower.

Since Allen Weisselberg handled the finances for both the Trump Organization and her family, gifts like that also served as a way to avoid paying taxes, Jennifer Weisselberg said.

“That’s the compensation. They just pay for everything, instead of paying on the books,” she said. “It was a way Allen decided to [benefit] Donald, or to avoid employee taxes, state taxes, gift taxes. I mean, if you want to get compensated and thank Donald – great. But you got to pay taxes on it.”

In February, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. hired Mark Pomerantz, a well-regarded white-collar attorney with experience investigating mob organizations, to join the team looking into the Trump Organization. Jennifer Weisselberg has spoken with Pomerantz several times since, she told Insider. The office also sent a forensic accountant with experience analyzing mob finances to look at her documents, she said.

Representatives for the Trump Organization and for Barry Weisselberg didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment for this story. Representatives for Allen Weisselberg, the Manhattan DA’s office, and the New York Attorney General’s office declined to comment.

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