July 1 (UPI) -- New York City prosecutors indicted the top financial executive of the Trump Organization on 15 counts related to alleged tax crimes to which he pleaded not guilty Thursday.
Allen Weisselberg surrendered and appeared in court after a years-long investigation into the company's business practices. He was released on his own recognizance Thursday and ordered to hand over his passport to prevent him from leaving the country.
Weisselberg, together with the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corporation, face 15 counts related to a tax scheme involving fraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying records, according to the indictment.
The charges are related to a grand jury investigation into the Trump Organization, the business empire belonging to former President Donald Trump. The criminal action is the first against the Trump Organization by a two-year joint investigation between Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Weisselberg was the organization's chief financial officer for nearly five decades.
The charges accuse Weisselberg of skirting taxes for employees' fringe benefits, which allowed some to receive things such as luxury cars, apartments and school tuition.
"It was orchestrated by the most senior executives, who were financially benefitting themselves and the company, by getting secret pay raises at the expense of state and federal taxpayers," Assistant District Attorney Carey Dunne said in court, according to CBS News.
Trump himself is not expected to be charged at this stage of the investigation.
Trump Organization attorneys met with prosecutors in Vance's office in recent weeks and encouraged them not to pursue charges, CNN reported.
"It's outrageous. It's unprecedented. It's never happened before," Trump attorney Ron Fischetti said, according to CNN.
Weisselberg first went to work for Trump's father, Fred Trump, in 1973 before working for Donald Trump in 1986. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, in testimony before Congress, said Weisselberg helped him with a $130,000 "hush money" payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in the Daniels case, which began the formal inquiry into the Trump Organization that led to Thursday's indictments.
Weisselberg often travels with Trump between homes in New York City and South Florida.