Trump Organization fraud trial delayed after witness tests positive for COVID



The prison tax fraud trial of the Trump Organization went on maintain on Tuesday after the corporate’s controller, Jeffrey McConney, who had been testifying as a prosecution witness, examined positive for COVID-19.

McConney had been coughing throughout his testimony earlier within the day and on Monday after he took the stand as the primary witness within the trial. He examined positive after complaining of sickness throughout Tuesday’s lunch break.

Justice Juan Merchan, who oversees the case in Manhattan Supreme Court, mentioned the trial might resume on Nov. 7 if the 67-year-old McConney felt higher. He mentioned court docket protocol known as for McConney to isolate for six days.

The surprising delay got here after McConney testified that the Trump Organization paid effectively over US$1 million in untaxed advantages for Allen Weisselberg, its longtime former chief monetary officer.

McConney’s testimony might bolster prosecutors’ argument that the previous president’s firm improperly paid Weisselberg off-the-books advantages to maintain him completely satisfied by lowering his tax bill, and lower your expenses itself.

The Trump Organization, which operates accommodations, golf programs and different actual property world wide, was charged in 2021 by the Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace with awarding govt perks over 15 years with out reporting the extra earnings to tax authorities, and falsely reporting bonuses as non-employee compensation.

If convicted, the corporate might face US$1.6 million in fines.

A conviction might additionally complicate its potential to do enterprise.

The case is one in every of a number of authorized issues confronted by Donald Trump, because the Republican former president, 76, weighs one other White House run in 2024 after dropping to Democrat Joe Biden in 2020.

Trump has not been charged, whereas two Trump Organization items have pleaded not responsible.

Weisselberg pleaded responsible and agreed to testify for the prosecution, which considered him as a primary beneficiary of the tax scheme.

The plea settlement calls for Weisselberg to serve 5 months in jail. He stays on the Trump Organization’s payroll, however stepped down as CFO after being charged.


McConney’s sickness was disclosed exterior the jury’s presence by prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, who advised Merchan that the district legal professional’s workplace had organized for a COVID-19 take a look at.

The choose later mentioned that McConney examined positive.

McConney has labored for the Trump Organization since 1987, and acquired immunity after testifying to a grand jury.

Before being sidelined, McConney testified that Weisselberg’s US$540,000 annual wage and $400,000 annual bonus didn’t change for a decade, however that he was awarded perks together with hire and personal college tuition funds.

McConney mentioned that earlier than changing into president, Trump would decde how a lot Weisselberg can be paid annually.

“Prior to 2017, he was the boss,” McConney mentioned, referring to Trump.

McConney was proven a 2005 lease that Trump signed for a US$6,500-a-month Manhattan condo for Weisselberg and his spouse.

“That is President Trump’s signature,” McConney testified, taking a look at Trump’s trademark black Sharpie signature.

He mentioned one in every of Trump’s corporations paid about US$1 million in hire, greater than $80,000 in utilities and $45,000 for parking, and greater than $195,000 for Mercedes-Benzes for Weisselberg and his spouse between 2005 and 2017.

McConney mentioned Trump personally signed greater than US$315,000 in cheques for non-public college tuition for Weisselberg’s grandchildren, and Weisselberg acquired greater than $29,000 in money to disperse as Christmas presents.

The controller additionally mentioned different Trump entities, together with a golf membership and his Mar-a-Lago membership in Florida, paid bonuses to some Trump Organization workers that may make them look like impartial contractors as an alternative of workers.

It was not till 2017 or 2018, by which period Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric had taken the helm, that the corporate modified its practices after a memo from its tax lawyer, McConney mentioned.

McConney stays on the Trump Organization’s payroll, and prosecutors view him as a hostile witness.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)


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