Former Trump Org. exec Allen Weisselberg takes stand at company's trial

New York prosecutors Tuesday called Allen Weisselberg, who spent half a century working for the Trump Organization, to testify as part of their case against the company.

Weisselberg said in court that after entering a guilty plea in the Trump Organization's criminal fraud and tax evasion case in August, he continued working for the company for two months.

Weisselberg, the company's former chief financial officer, talked to Eric Trump "periodically" as part of his work during that time, he said. Weisselberg said he is still on the company payroll, making $640,000 in salary.

A prosecutor asked: Will he also receive the $500,000 annual bonus he's come to expect?

"Hopefully," Weisselberg said, before acknowledging it's up to Eric Trump.

Annual bonuses received by Weisselberg and other executives are at the heart of the Manhattan district attorney's case against the company. The company for years paid the bonuses to executives using a variety of methods, including by portraying the executives as independent contractors for Trump Organization companies, both sides have acknowledged in court.

Two Trump Organization entities and Weisselberg are accused by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office of more than a dozen counts of fraud and tax evasion. Weisselberg entered a guilty plea, admitting that he received more than $1.7 million in untaxed compensation in the form of luxury perks.

Weisselberg testified Tuesday that after he was indicted in 2021 he assumed the title of senior adviser, continuing to work from Trump Tower, where he had many of the same responsibilities he had before his arrest. Those responsibilities included regular conversations with Eric Trump, the former president's son who oversees the company's day-to-day operations, Weisselberg said.

Weisselberg and his family, who both sides agree enjoyed lavish untaxed corporate benefits, have so far been the focus of the trial, which began Oct. 31.

Prosecutors allege Weisselberg was part of a corporate scheme to help executives "cheat" their taxes. The Trump Organization denies wrongdoing and says Weisselberg acted independently, hiding the tax scheme from the company.

Weisselberg and his wife, Hilary, lived in an $8,200 per month company-owned apartment under a lease agreement signed by Donald Trump himself, while driving luxury cars paid for by the Trump Organization. His son Barry Weisselberg, who also worked for the company, paid just $1,000 per month to live in a high-rise overlooking Central Park, far below the going rate for that high-demand location.

The first witness to take the stand, Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, was called by prosecutors at the start of the trial and testified for more than five days, spread out over more than two weeks after McConney tested positive for, and then recovered from, COVID-19.

McConney was declared a hostile witness Monday after the judge said McConney appeared to be avoiding giving meaningful answers to even basic questions.

Judge Juan Merchan said McConney had "a hard time giving very credible answers" to prosecutors' questions, while "it is pretty clear to the average observer that he is very helpful to" Trump Organization attorneys.

McConney has an attorney paid for by the company and has met with Trump Organization attorneys during the trial, he and they have acknowledged.

Under questioning from attorneys for the company, McConney said he was misled by Weisselberg and an outside accountant about certain tax practices. Asked by lawyers on both sides whether he helped Weisselberg and another executive  "cheat" on taxes, McConney acknowledged that he did.

As part of Weisselberg's plea deal with prosecutors, he agreed to testify in the case. Merchan is expected to address Weisselberg's formal sentencing at a hearing scheduled on Nov. 28. Weisselberg's deal with prosecutors calls for a sentence of five months in New York's Rikers Island jail, followed by five years probation. He must also pay $1.9 million in back taxes and fines.

Breaking down the multiple investigations into former President Trump

NASA launches Artemis moon rocket, paving the way for future landings

Republicans close in on claiming House majority