Trump Organization tax fraud trial begins in New York
New York, New York - The Trump Organization trial kicked off Monday in Manhattan, where prosecutors and lawyers for the former president’s family real estate business began a process of surveying New Yorkers on their political biases for the jury.
Judge Juan Merchan estimated it would take a minimum of two weeks to find 12 unbiased New Yorkers to serve on the jury. He expects the trial to last for five or six weeks.
The Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corporation have pleaded not guilty to a host of criminal tax fraud and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors say the company ran a 15-year "off-the-books" tax evasion scheme, hiding millions in taxable income from authorities.
The company tried without success to have the trial pushed back, telling Merchan last month that the cooperation of its longtime moneyman Allen Weisselberg had forced lawyers to rethink its entire defense strategy.
His plea deal requires him to testify at the trial about conspiring with Trump Organization executives to defraud authorities by underreporting taxable income in exchange for five months of prison time on Rikers Island.
Trump has, thus far, empathized with Weisselberg, who he says is a victim of a Democratic-led conspiracy to prevent him from regaining power.
Donald Trump is facing more legal troubles
James’ sweeping complaint accuses Trump and top company executives of manipulating the value of its assets to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
It says Trump habitually overstated his personal net worth by "billions."
If convicted, the Trump entities face significant financial penalties.
Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS & JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP