NEW YORK (AP) — Allen Weisselberg, a longtime executive for Donald Trump ’s business empire whose testimony helped convict the former president’s company of tax fraud, was sentenced Tuesday to five months in jail for dodging taxes on $1.7 million in job perks.
Weisselberg, 75, was promised that sentence in August when he agreed to plead guilty to 15 tax crimes and to testify against the Trump Organization, where he’s worked since the mid-1980s and until his arrest, had served as chief financial officer.
He was handcuffed and taken into custody moments after the sentence was announced and was expected to be taken to New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex. Weisselberg will be eligible for release after a little more than three months if he behaves behind bars.
As part of the plea agreement, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan also ordered Weisselberg to pay nearly $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest — which he has paid as of Jan. 3. Additionally, the judge ordered Weisselberg to complete five years of probation after his jail term is finished.
Weisselberg faced the prospect of up to 15 years in prison — the maximum punishment for the top grand larceny charge — if he were to have reneged on the deal or if he didn’t testify truthfully at the Trump Organization’s trial. He is the only person charged in the Manhattan district attorney’s three-year investigation of Trump and his business practices.
Weisselberg testified for three days, offering a glimpse into the inner workings of Trump’s real estate empire. Weisselberg has worked for Trump’s family for nearly 50 years, starting as an accountant for his developer father, Fred Trump, in 1973 before joining Donald Trump in 1986 and helping expand the family company’s focus beyond New York City into a global golf and hotel brand.
Weisselberg told jurors he betrayed the Trump family’s trust by conspiring with a subordinate to hide more than a decade’s worth of extras from his income, including a free Manhattan apartment, luxury cars and his grandchildren’s private school tuition. He said they fudged payroll records and issued falsified W-2 forms.
A Manhattan jury convicted the Trump Organization in December, finding that Weisselberg had been a “high managerial” agent entrusted to act on behalf of the company and its various entities. Weisselberg’s arrangement reduced his own personal income taxes but also saved the company money because it didn’t have to pay him more to cover the cost of the perks.