- The Manhattan DA’s Trump Organization investigation is still ongoing after last week’s indictments.
- Prosecutors described its CFO as “one of the largest individual beneficiaries” of an alleged tax scheme.
- The language suggests people other than Allen Weisselberg benefited and could be charged later.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
One sentence in the Manhattan District Attorney’s 15-count indictment against the Trump Organization suggests more people affiliated with the ex-president’s family company could face charges in the future, according to a former prosecutor.
Thursday’s indictment alleged the Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg participated in a yearslong scheme to avoid paying taxes on $1.7 million worth of compensation. Both Weisselberg and attorneys for the Trump Organization pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Randy Zelin, a former New York state prosecutor, told Insider the charging documents included a sentence that offered a clue about other people who may have been involved in the alleged tax scheme.
“One of the largest individual beneficiaries of the defendants’ scheme was Allen Weisselberg,” the indictment reads.
Zelin, now a defense attorney at Wilk Auslander LLP, said prosecutors’ use of the word “individual” suggests other people – not just corporations – benefited from the Trump Organization’s alleged tax avoidance scheme.
“The government could have said he was the only one, right? The government didn’t have to use the word ‘individual,'” Zelin said. “The fact that the government inserted the word ‘individual’ means that there may be others who enjoy perks.”
“The fact that the government said ‘one of the largest’ – that by its very nature means other people were doing the same or doing similar,” he added.
The investigation into the Trump Organization is ongoing. A special grand jury is scheduled to sit until November, examining issues like whether the company kept two sets of books, if it broke laws by facilitating a hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, and whether anyone other than Weisselberg got untaxed benefits.
The indictment describes an ongoing tax avoidance scheme that prosecutors allege began in 2005. Former President Donald Trump personally led the company until 2017, and then turned over leadership to Weisselberg and his two eldest sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., who have disparaged the investigation as politically motivated.
Zelin noted that the Trump Organization closed ranks around Weisselberg after he was charged, suggesting the executive wasn’t a rogue actor in the alleged tax avoidance scheme.
“If he had done this on his own, he would have then have been cheating the Trump Organization,” Zelin said. “Not only wasn’t he terminated, not only was he not suspended pending further investigation, not only was he not suspended once he was indicted – but apparently he’s gone back to work since his indictment.”
Manhattan prosecutors have sought Weisselberg’s cooperation in their investigation, and Zelin said the charges against him could help flip more people from Trump’s orbit.
Matthew Calamari, the Trump Organization’s chief operating officer who lived in company-owned apartments, is under scrutiny as well. And Ivanka Trump, who appeared to take a tax-deducted consulting fee from the company despite being one of its executives, according to a New York Times investigation of tax filings, may also be at legal risk.
“There’s certainly a lot of clues that would suggest that this indictment is just the beginning, rather than the end,” Zelin said.