Trump's company sentenced to pay $1.61 mln penalty

STORY: A New York judge on Friday sentenced Donald Trump's real estate company to pay a $1.61 million criminal penalty after it was convicted of a 15-year-scheme to defraud tax authorities, the maximum possible penalty under state law.

Friday's sentence comes after jurors last month found two Trump Organization affiliates guilty of 17 criminal charges.

At the four-week trial, prosecutors accused Trump's company of paying for executives' personal expenses such as rent and car leases without reporting them as income, and pretended that Christmas bonuses were non-employee compensation.

EPNER: “Well, the sentence was the maximum that could be imposed. It comes as no surprise since everybody expected that this is what would be imposed."

Legal analysts said that after a jury found the company guilty on all counts, there was little question the firm would face a significant penalty.

While the fine - less than two million dollars - may not seem like much, the verdict could prove problematic for the Trump Organization.

Attorney Mitchell Epner:

“I think that it is possible that it will impact the ability to do business, because it will be a problem for lenders, to the extent that the Trump Organization wants to borrow money to do business. And it's possible that it will interfere with the Trump Organization's ability to do business with the federal government. As far as the Trump Organization's ability to move forward as a financial matter, unless the whole thing is a shell game and there's no, there there, $1.6 million shouldn't be a meaningful difference for them.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office brought the case, is still conducting a criminal probe into Trump's business practices.

Earlier this week, Allen Weisselberg, who worked for Trump's family for a half-century and was the company's former chief financial officer, was sentenced to five months in jail after he testified as the prosecution's star witness.

This case has long been a thorn in the side of the Republican former president, who is once again seeking the White House. Trump called the charges part of a witch hunt by Democrats who dislike him and his politics.

One of the defense lawyers said Trump's company plans to appeal.

Trump also faces a $250 million civil lawsuit by state Attorney General Letitia James accusing him and his adult children Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric of inflating his net worth and his company's asset values to save on loans and insurance.

Trump faces several other legal woes, including probes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, his retention of classified documents after leaving the White House and efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia.