Criminal case against Trump Organization and former CFO Weisselberg can proceed, judge says

A New York judge set a trial date for Oct. 24 on Friday in the criminal case against the Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, capping a particularly tumultuous week for former President Donald Trump.

Acting Judge Juan Merchan also rejected an offer by the real estate company and Weisselberg to dismiss the charges against them, which they said were politically motivated. The judge ruled at a hearing in Lower Manhattan that the evidence presented to the grand jury “was legally sufficient to support the charges in the indictment”, and that these proceedings had been properly conducted and their “integrity intact”.

The judge, however, dismissed one count against the company on statute-barred grounds.

The Trump Organization and longtime former CFO Weisselberg were indicted last year in what prosecutors said was a sweeping 15-year scheme to compensate top executives of Trump’s former company “out of pounds” and help them avoid paying taxes.

The Trump Organization pleaded not guilty to charges of tax evasion and falsifying business documents, while Weisselberg, 74, pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery and tax evasion, among other things, after prosecutors accused him of personally avoiding taxes on $1.7 million of his income. .

Prosecutors say it was an “orchestrated” scheme to compensate “off-the-books” executives to avoid taxes.

Trump and company claimed the charges were the result of a flawed investigation led initially by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and now by his successor, Alvin Bragg, both Democrats.

Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante, said he looked forward to fighting the charges in court.

“If there was a deal to be done in this case, there was plenty of time to do it,” Gravante said. “My mission now is to lead this test team and win, and that’s what I intend to do.”

The hearing comes at the end of a wild week for Trump that began with FBI agents executing a search warrant at Trump’s Florida resort. Officers were looking for sensitive documents Trump allegedly took with him from the White House in January 2021. Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, said on Tuesday that the warrant left by officers indicated they were investigating possible violations of laws relating to the handling of classified documents and the presidential election. Archives Act.

On Wednesday, Trump was deposed by attorneys in the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James as part of his civil investigation into the business practices of the Trump Organization. A source familiar with the deposition told NBC News that the former president invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination nearly 450 times.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said his office had “probable cause” to execute the search warrant and decided to unseal the document along with a redacted list of items that agents of the FBI took over the property. Trump said on social media that he would not oppose the release of the documents, which are expected to be released later Friday.

On Friday morning, Trump also denied a Washington Post report that FBI agents were looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons, calling it a “hoax” and suggesting authorities planted evidence on his property.

Associated Press contributed.

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