A Manhattan state judge on Friday declined to dismiss the criminal case against the family business of Donald J. Trump and his longtime financial director, Allen H. Weisselberg, paving the way for a trial in the case scheduled for the fall .
Mr. Weisselberg and the company, the Trump Organization, were accused by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office last year of participating in a 15-year scheme that compensated executives with hidden benefits so they could evade taxes. The charges stemmed from the firm’s long-running investigation into the company’s business practices.
In February, Mr. Weisselberg and the company filed motions to dismiss the charges, arguing that the case was politically motivated and that the defendants were charged only because of their ties to former President Donald J. Trump.
The decision marked the final legal battle for Trump in a week filled with them.
On Monday, the FBI searched his Florida home in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. And on Wednesday, the former president invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in an interview with the New York State Attorney General, who is conducting a civil investigation into some of the same practices under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney. .
The judge, Juan Merchan, awarded a major victory to District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg. His prosecutors argued in May, in response to the motion to dismiss, that there was nothing special about the charges: Mr Weisselberg had broken the law by failing to pay his taxes and was being prosecuted for it, they said.
The Trump Investigations
The Trump Investigations
Countless questions. Since Donald J. Trump left office, the former president has faced several civil and criminal investigations across the country into his business dealings and political activities. Here’s a look at some notable cases:
“Over the period indicted in the indictment, Weisselberg evaded payment of taxes on a total of $1.7 million in revenue,” they wrote in a memo filed with the court. “Such unlawful conduct is regularly prosecuted and this office would have been negligent not to do so here.”
Justice Merchan dismissed one criminal tax fraud charge against the Trump Organization and its affiliate payroll company, and dropped 14 of the 15 charges in the lawsuit against the company and all charges against Mr. Weisselberg. Prosecutors had admitted in May that the Earl had to be fired because of issues with the statute of limitations.
The jury selection for a trial was scheduled for October 24.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been investigating Mr. Trump and his firm since 2018, and Mr. Weisselberg became a focus for investigators from the District Attorney’s Office in the spring of 2021, just a month after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling. last attempt by mr. Trump to block the office from getting his tax returns. The judges’ decision ended a protracted legal battle that significantly slowed the progress of the investigation.
Overseen by then-prosecutor Cyrus R. Vance Jr., prosecutors investigated whether Mr. Trump and his company had fraudulently inflated the value of his real estate to obtain loans and benefits.
But after obtaining Mr. Trump’s tax records, the prosecutors’ investigation into Mr. Weisselberg began to focus on benefits he received from the company, including several rented Mercedes-Benzes, a rent-free apartment, and private school lessons for his grandchildren. . mr. Weisselberg, prosecutors said when they indicted him last July, failed to pay taxes on those benefits.
Before mr. Weisselberg was charged, prosecutors exerted considerable pressure on him to cooperate in their investigation of Mr. Trump for his in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump organization.
But Mr. Weisselberg failed to make a deal, which led to his indictment. Since then, the Trump Organization has stripped him of his CFO title, although he continues to work at the company.
The indictment described a scheme coordinated by senior executives of the Trump Organization to under-report their income by accepting benefits not listed on tax documents.
Even without Mr. Weisselberg’s cooperation, prosecutors continued to build a case against Mr. Trump, focusing on whether he had improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets.
In December, just weeks before he was due to resign from office, Mr. Vance ordered prosecutors to present evidence to a grand jury, laying the groundwork for a possible charge against Mr. Trump.
Mr. Vance had decided not to stand for re-election and his successor, Mr. Bragg, was sworn in on January 1. Initially, the new prosecutor allowed prosecutors to proceed with their presentation to the grand jury. But after holding a series of meetings about the investigation, he began to worry about the challenge of proving Mr. Trump’s intent to break the law, a requirement to prove the charge in question.
Shortly thereafter, the two senior prosecutors who led the investigation, Carey Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, resigned. In the letter of resignation from Mr. Pomerantz, obtained by DailyExpertNews, said that Mr. Trump was “guilty of numerous violations” and that it was “a grave failure of justice” not to hold him accountable.
Bragg has since defended the investigation, saying it is continuing, although the direction it has taken is unclear.
Colin Moynihan reporting contributed.