The Manhattan District Attorney responded Monday to an effort by the Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg to have criminal fraud and tax evasion charges against them dismissed.
Weisselberg and company in January asked a judge to dismiss the case, which was filed in July 2021, saying they had been targeted “based on political animosity” for their connection to the former president. Donald Trump. Weisselberg also argued that he received immunity from certain federal charges when he testified before a federal grand jury investigating former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Prosecutors said in their filing on Monday that the Weisselberg investigation was actually triggered by a November 2, 2020 Bloomberg Article about the benefits that Weisselberg would have received.
“The article described numerous key facts relevant to the crimes charged,” Manhattan District Attorney Solomon Shinerock wrote in Monday’s filing.
Former President Trump’s eponymous company wasto offer executives lavish non-taxable benefits or “indirect employee compensation”. Weisselberg, who had been with Trump in the business for decades, was accused of receiving benefits – including an apartment and a car – worth $1.7 million.
Weisselberg and company pleaded not guilty. Their lawyers could not immediately be reached.
In the January motion to dismiss the charges, they claimed the company and Weisselberg were “incorrectly targeted” due to policies. They pointed to statements by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who has criticized Trump, a Republican. Two attorneys from James’ office are assigned to the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation.
But in Monday’s filing, Shinerock — who worked the case under current DA Alvin Bragg, and former district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., both Democrats — wrote that his office and James’ office were unaware for “several months” in early 2021 that they were both investigating Weisselberg for tax crimes.
Lawyers for Weisselberg also wrote in January that charges against Weisselberg should be dropped because he was granted immunity from certain federal charges when he testified before a federal grand jury investigating former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. .
Shinerock responded that no one on his team “has ever seen or been made aware of the content of Weisselberg’s testimony” against Cohen, but asserted that federal immunity does not apply to the charges against Weisselberg.
The judge assigned to the case did not rule on the motions to dismiss.
A separate civil investigation into the Trump Organization led by James’ office is expected to wrap up soon, and that office’s attorneys have said it will lead to “enforcement action.” They did not specify what it will be.