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Trump Org. CFO Weisselberg surrenders

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The indictment against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg is the first in a nearly three-year investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

It could undermine the Trump Organization's relationships with banks and business partners, and complicate Trump's political future as the Republican resumes holding rallies and mulls a 2024 White House run.

Trump himself has not been charged. Vance was recently joined in conducting the probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat.

Prosecutors accused the defendants of having since 2005 defrauded tax authorities by awarding "off the books" benefits to Trump Organization executives.

Weisselberg, 73, was charged with concealing $1.76 million of income, including rent for a Manhattan apartment, lease payments for two Mercedes Benz vehicles and tuition for family members, with Trump signing checks for the tuition himself.

Prosecutors said this enabled Weisselberg, who has worked for Trump for about 48 years, to evade roughly $900,000 in taxes and collect $133,000 in refunds he did not deserve.

"To put it bluntly, this was a sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme," Assistant District Attorney Carey Dunne said at the arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. "This is not a standard practice in the business community, nor was it the act of a rogue or isolated employee."

The indictment could increase pressure on Weisselberg to cooperate with prosecutors, which he has resisted.

Such cooperation could become crucial to any future case against the former president.

"If the allegations in the indictment are true, this was pants-on-fire tax evasion," said Daniel Hemel, a tax law professor at the University of Chicago. "It is very hard to believe that this could have happened without the man on top knowing."

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