Breaking News: Trump Organization found guilty in tax fraud scheme

The former president’s company had been accused of providing off-the-book benefits to executives. The testimony of its former chief financial officer proved crucial to the case.

Donald J. Trump’s family real estate business was convicted on Tuesday of tax fraud and other financial crimes, a remarkable rebuke of the former president’s company and what prosecutors described as its “culture of fraud and deception.”

The conviction on all 17 counts, after more than a day of jury deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, resulted from a long-running scheme in which the Trump Organization doled out off-the-books luxury perks to some executives: They received fancy apartments, leased Mercedes-Benzes, even private school tuition for relatives, none of which they paid taxes on.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which led the case against two Trump Organization entities, had previously extracted a guilty plea from the architect of the scheme, Allen H. Weisselberg, the company’s long-serving chief financial officer. Mr. Weisselberg, one of the former president’s most loyal lieutenants, testified as the prosecution’s star witness, but never implicated Mr. Trump.

While prosecutors stopped short of indicting the former president, they invoked his name throughout the monthlong trial, telling jurors that he personally paid for some of the perks and even approved a crucial aspect of the scheme. The prosecution also sounded a drumbeat of damning evidence that spotlighted his company’s freewheeling culture, revealing that pervasive illegality unfolded under Mr. Trump’s nose for years.

The company’s conviction — coupled with the prosecution’s explosive claim at trial that Mr. Trump was “explicitly sanctioning tax fraud” — could now reverberate through the 2024 presidential race, providing early fodder for opponents and their attack ads.

It also might lay the groundwork for the district attorney’s office to intensify its broader criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s business practices — and hush money paid to a porn star who said she had an affair with him — an inquiry that gained momentum in recent months, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

For now, the verdict against Mr. Trump’s company provides a win for the new district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, a Democrat who came under fire early this year when he declined to seek an indictment of Mr. Trump in the broader investigation. The conviction of the company marks the height of Mr. Bragg’s young tenure.

“The former president’s companies now stand convicted of crimes,” Mr. Bragg said outside the courtroom after the verdict was delivered. “That is consequential. It underscores that in Manhattan we have one standard of justice for all.”

The conviction on charges of tax fraud, a scheme to defraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records is hardly a death sentence for the Trump Organization. The maximum penalty it faces is $1.62 million, a rounding error for Mr. Trump, who typically notched hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue during his presidency.

Yet the verdict represents a highly public reckoning for the Trump Organization, forever branding it as a felonious enterprise. A company that served as a launching pad for the former president’s tabloid celebrity, his star turn on “The Apprentice” and ultimately his political career, might now be best known for its conviction, rather than the hotels and golf clubs that Mr. Trump spent a generation building.

The former president has blamed it all on a politically motivated witch hunt. But while his attacks on prosecutors might appeal to his most loyal voters, lenders and the broader business world might now shun his company.

In a statement after the verdict, the company took aim at Mr. Weisselberg, noting that he “testified under oath that he ‘betrayed’ the trust the company had placed in him.”

“The notion that a company could be held responsible for an employee’s actions, to benefit themselves, on their own personal tax returns is simply preposterous,” the company said in the statement.

Alan Futerfas, one of the company’s lawyers, said the Trump Organization would appeal the verdict. Another company lawyer, Susan Necheles, called the case “unprecedented and legally incorrect,” adding that, “We disagree with the jury’s verdict.”

The jurors delivered their decision after spending about 10 hours deliberating, at times appearing to methodically work through charges as they returned to the courtroom on several occasions to request information. But when their deliberations had concluded, the jurors seemed eager to report. They buzzed the courtroom four times to notify the judge that it was time to be heard.

Jennifer Weisselberg, Alan Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law has been in a public war with him and his family and was interviewed by the district attorney’s office. Her lawyer, Duncan Levin, said: “The jury has spoken and clearly saw what Ms. Weisselberg has been saying all along. Everything she has said about tax crimes committed at the Trump Organization has come to pass. We are happy for her that justice will be served.”

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