NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s longtime finance chief is expected to plead guilty as soon as Thursday in a tax evasion case. The only criminal prosecution stemming from the lengthy investigation into the former president’s company, three people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
Trump Organization CFO Allen Weiselberg is scheduled to go on trial in October on charges he took more than $1.7 million. Off-the-books compensation from the company, including rent, car payments and school tuition.
Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office and Weiselberg’s lawyers met Monday with Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, who is overseeing the case, according to court records. The judge scheduled a hearing on the matter for 9 a.m. Thursday, but did not specify a reason.
The people who spoke to the AP did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case. They warned that the purpose of Thursday’s hearing was to get Weiselberg to enter a guilty plea, but that plea deals sometimes fall apart before they are finalized in court.
Weiselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr., told the New York Times on Monday Weiselberg is engaged in plea negotiations to resolve the case, but did not specify the terms of a potential plea deal. Reached by the AP, Gravante declined to comment.
The Times, citing two people with knowledge of the matter, said Weiselberg is expected to serve five months in prison, making him eligible for release after about 100 days. The deal does not require Weiselberg to testify or cooperate with the ongoing criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices.
Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, was also charged in the case, but did not appear to be involved in the plea deal negotiations. Weiselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined comment. A message seeking comment was left with a lawyer for the Trump Organization.
News of Weiselberg’s plea negotiations comes days after a judge rejected requests by his lawyers and the Trump Organization to dismiss the case. A judge dropped one criminal tax evasion count against the company, citing the statute of limitations, but more than a dozen other counts remain.
In seeking to dismiss the case, Weiselberg’s lawyers argued that prosecutors in the Democrat-led district attorney’s office were punishing him for not providing damaging information against the former president.
The judge rejected that argument, saying the evidence presented to the grand jury was legally sufficient to support the charges.
Weiselberg, who turned 75 on Monday, is the only Trump executive charged in the years-long criminal investigation started by former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who went to the Supreme Court to preserve Trump’s tax records. Vance’s successor, Alvin Bragg, is now overseeing the investigation. Several other Trump executives have been exempted from testifying before a grand jury in the case.
Prosecutors allege that Weiselberg and the Trump Organization schemed for 15 years to pay off-the-books compensation to senior executives, including Weiselberg. Weiselberg alone is accused of defrauding the federal government, the state and the city of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and ineligible tax refunds.
Weiselberg’s most serious charge, grand larceny, carries a possible sentence of five to 15 years in prison. Charges of tax fraud against a company are punishable by a fine of twice the unpaid taxes or $250,000, whichever is greater.
Trump has not been charged in the criminal probe, but prosecutors noted that he signed some checks midway through the case. Trump, who denounced the New York investigations as a “political witch hunt,” said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate business and in no way criminal.
Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James sat for a deposition in a parallel civil trial over allegations Trump misled creditors and tax officials about the values of company assets. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment defense More than 400 times against self-incrimination.
In the months after Wieselberg’s arrest, the criminal investigation appeared to be making progress toward indicting Trump himself, but the probe slowed, a grand jury was quashed after Bragg took office in January, and a top prosecutor quit — though he insists it is. is continuing