A New York Supreme Court judge on Friday ordered the Trump Organization to pay $1.6 million in criminal penalties for its conviction on tax fraud and other claims. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 13 (UPI) -- A New York Supreme Court judge on Friday ordered the family real estate business of former President Donald Trump to pay $1.6 million in criminal penalties for its conviction on tax fraud and other claims.
The Trump Organization's two subsidiaries, The Trump Corp. and The Trump Payroll Corp., were both sentenced to the maximum possible fines under New York laws after the court convicted the Trump Organization in December for dishing out off-the-books perks to some of its top executives to escape taxes.
"Today, former President Trump's companies were sentenced to the maximum fines allowed by law following historic convictions for a total of 17 felony crimes," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., said in a statement." Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, The Trump Corporation, and The Trump Payroll Corp. conducted and benefitted from sweeping fraud for well over a decade."
Trump's lawyers sought a diminished penalty, blaming accounting firms Mazars USA for failing to stop the wrongdoing and Weisselberg for carrying out the scheme without the intent to benefit the company.
Joshua Steinglass, a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office, argued the company carried out "a multidimensional scheme to defraud the tax authorities."
"To avoid detection, they simply falsified the records," he said. "This conduct can only be described as egregious."
Weisselberg, pleaded guilty to charges including grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing and was sentenced to five months at the Rikers Island jail complex on Tuesday.
Prosecutors claimed Weisselberg received more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation over more than a decade, including rent payments on luxury apartments, home furnishings, Mercedes Benz cars, parking garage expenses and private-school tuition payments for his grandchildren.
Bragg on Friday also called for the state to change the allow to allow for "more significant penalties and sanctions" on companies.
"While corporations can't serve jail time, this consequential conviction and sentencing serve as a reminder to corporations and executives that you cannot defraud tax authorities and get away with it," he said.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office is leading a civil probe into the Trump Organization, praised the ruling on Twitter.
"This sentencing proves once again that no one is above the law, not even Donald Trump or his business," she wrote.