As the only verdict for a criminal conviction that has come close to former President Donald Trump, the Trump Organization was fined $1.6 million, the maximum penalty allowed, by a New York judge on Friday for operating a decade-long tax fraud scheme.
The Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp., two Trump corporations, were found guilty of 17 offenses, including tax fraud and fabricating financial documents, last month.
The maximum fine that the businesses could face under New York law is around $1.6 million, a cost that the Trump Organization could easily afford.
Despite acknowledging that it will have a “limited impact” on a multibillion-dollar firm, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked Judge Juan Merchan to impose the maximum fine on the Trump Organization.
“We all know that these corporations cannot go to jail as Allen Weisselberg has,” Steinglass said Friday, referring to the Trump Organization’s long-time chief financial officer who was sentenced to five months in jail earlier this week as part of a deal he reached with prosecutors.
“The only way to effectively deter such conduct is to make it as expensive as possible.”
The judgment against the Trump Organization is significant, but New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg wants lawmakers to increase the penalties for businesses that breach the law.
“This conviction was,” Bragg said outside of the courtroom Friday, “was consequential, the first time ever for criminal conviction of former President Trump’s companies, and indeed I would go so far as to say the first time ever for any former president certainly in my lifetime.”
But the fine isn’t a severe enough punishment, Bragg continued.
“I want to be very clear – we don’t think that is enough. Our laws in this state need to change in order to capture this type of decade-plus systemic, egregious fraud,” Bragg said.
The Trump Organization entities have fourteen days to pay the penalty.
Because there is no legal method to dissolve the firm, the real estate industry is not in danger of being destroyed. No one will be imprisoned as a result of the jury’s decision. The Trump Organization’s reputation and capacity to transact business, secure financing, or win contracts could be adversely affected by a felony conviction.
Although the former president and his family were not charged in this case, the prosecution frequently brought up Trump’s involvement with the untaxed advantages given to some executives, such as company-funded homes, car leases, and personal expenses, during the trial. Trump “explicitly sanctioned” tax fraud, according to one prosecutor.
While describing the “culture of deception” the panel observed at the Trump Organization to CNN, one of the jurors also occasionally referred to Trump as a bland “Bob Smith” when discussing the businessman’s knowledge of the crimes in regard to the charges.
Weisselberg agreed to testify honestly against the firm at trial after entering a guilty plea to 15 charges connected to the tax fraud plan last year.
Up until Tuesday, when he was convicted, he continued to be on paid leave from the Trump Organization, where he was paid slightly more than $1 million annually. One individual with knowledge of the agreement described Weisselberg’s severance pay as “generous.”
When Weisselberg was sentenced, Merchan stated that if it weren’t for the agreement, he would have given him a longer prison term after hearing the trial’s testimony.
Merchan stated that he thought Weisselberg’s wife, who never worked for Trump, receiving a $6,000 payroll check from Weisselberg in order for her to become eligible for Social Security payments, to be the most “offensive.”
Weisselberg, the business, and the former president are all “victims,” according to a Trump Organization representative.
“New York has become the crime and murder capital of the world, yet these politically motivated prosecutors will stop at nothing to get President Trump and continue the never-ending witch-hunt which began the day he announced his presidency,” the spokesperson said.
“We did nothing wrong and we will appeal this verdict.”