New grand jury seated as Trump criminal probe continues

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New York prosecutors have convened a new grand jury to hear evidence to criminally investigate former President Donald Trump’s business dealings as the previous panel’s term ended.

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The development comes as the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is weighing whether to seek further indictment in the case that resulted in tax fraud charges against Trump’s company, the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO Alan Weiselberg.

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Trump himself is under scrutiny after District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. led a multi-year battle to gain access to Republican tax records.

The person was not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity. The new grand jury was first reported by The Washington Post.

The Manhattan DA’s office declined comment. A message seeking comment was left with a Trump Organization lawyer.

Investigators working for Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James have spent more than two years investigating whether the Trump Organization misled banks or tax officials about the value of company assets, asking them to obtain favorable loan terms. Inflated for or reduced them to reduce tax savings. ,

As part of an ongoing civil investigation, James’ office issued subpoenas to local governments in November 2019 for records relating to Trump’s estate north of Seven Springs, Manhattan, and a tax benefit to Trump land in a conservation trust. received to keep. Vance had issued a summons about a year ago demanding the same record.

James’ office is looking into similar issues related to the Trump office building in New York City, a hotel in Chicago and a golf course near Los Angeles. His office also won a series of court decisions that forced Trump’s company and a law firm to be hired to turn over the trove of records.

In the criminal case, Weiselberg has pleaded not guilty to charges that he collected more than $1.7 million in off-the-book compensation, including apartment rent, car payments and school tuition. The case also accused Trump’s company of what prosecutors have described as an “extensive and audacious” tax fraud scheme.

Prosecutors have also been weighing whether to seek charges against the company’s chief operating officer Matthew Calamari Sr.

According to the indictment, from 2005 to this year, the Trump Organization and 74-year-old Weiselberg defrauded tax officials by conspiring to pay senior executives through lucrative fringe benefits and other means. Weiselberg alone was accused of defrauding federal, state and city governments of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and unwanted tax refunds.

Trump himself was not charged with any wrongdoing, but prosecutors said he signed some of the checks at the center of the case.

In recent months, a pair of Trump Organization officials testified before a grand jury for an evidence hearing in the Manhattan case. Under New York law, grand jury witnesses are given immunity and cannot be charged with conduct for which they testify.

One of Trump’s officials granted immunity to testify before the grand jury is the company’s director of security, Matthew Calamari Jr., the son of Matthew Calamari Sr. Second, the senior vice president and comptroller, Jeffrey McConkey, was summoned to testify for the first time. Appeared before the panel again in the spring and September.

At a September hearing, Weiselberg’s attorney Brian Scarlatos told a judge he had “strong reason to believe” that more indictments were coming in the case.

The grand jury that rolled back the indictments of Weiselberg and the Trump Organization was listed in the spring for a six-month term. The new grand jury will also meet for six months, overlapping the start of Alvin Bragg’s term as district attorney.

As top deputy to New York’s attorney general in 2018, Bragg helped oversee a lawsuit that led to the closure of Trump’s charitable foundation over allegations that he used non-profit organizations to advance his political and business interests. beneficial use.

In an interview prior to his election, Bragg told the Associated Press his prior experience dealing with hostage fraud, money laundering and other white-collar investigations into the Trump criminal investigation felt “very equipped to follow the facts wherever they go”. .

“I remember the moment the attorney general decided to file a case and the final question was, ‘Is this a case we would file if it were someone else,'” Bragg said.

“And we arrived with the answer that yes, this was the kind of conduct that deserved an attorney general action. It’s the same philosophy and approach that I would take in the DA’s office,” he said.

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Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter twitter.com/mikesisak . follow on

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