Trump Organization criminal fraud trial delayed

Trump Organization criminal fraud trial delayed
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
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The criminal fraud trial of the Trump Organization in Manhattan was put on hold for the rest of the week after a key witness for the prosecution contracted COVID-19, CBS News reports.

Jeffrey McConney, a Trump Org. controller tested positive for the virus after coughing repeatedly during his testimony.

Manhattan prosecutors have charged the Trump Organization, currently run by Trump's two adult sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump, with hiding compensation it paid to top executives between 2005 and 2021.

In his testimony from Tuesday, McConney claimed that a "longtime Trump attorney oversaw an internal investigation of the Trump Organization's tax practices in 2017 and 2018, leading the company 'to do things differently,'" according to CBS News.

Trump, who is not named in the case, slammed the charges as a "witch hunt" by rivals, weeks ahead of congressional elections on November 8.

"The highly partisan Democrat Witch Hunt goes on, this time in New York... right during the important Mid-Term Elections, of course," he said on social media.

The company faces potential fines of over $1.5 million if found guilty.

One of the implicated executives, longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg, has already pleaded guilty to 15 counts of tax fraud, and is expected to testify against his former company as part of a plea bargain.

A close friend of the Trump family, the 75-year-old Weisselberg admitted he schemed with the company to receive undeclared benefits such as a rent-free apartment in a posh Manhattan neighborhood, luxury cars for him and his wife and private school tuition for his grandchildren.

According to his plea deal, Weisselberg has agreed to pay nearly $2 million in fines and penalties and complete a five-month prison sentence in exchange for testimony during the trial, for which jury selection began Monday.

"This plea agreement directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity and requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the corporation," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in August.

Weisselberg has so far refused to give testimony directly implicating the former president in the scheme.

With additional reporting by AFP

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