Trump Organization faces trial today on criminal fraud charges in New York

A dozen New York jurors will soon decide if two Trump Organization companies committed fraud and tax evasion.

After a six-week-long trial, Judge Juan Merchan reminded jurors Monday that in October they promised to “set aside any biases that you have for or against Donald Trump or his family” in deciding if executives working for the Trumps broke the law by avoiding taxes, while reducing payroll liabilities, through a variety of alleged schemes.

The former president was not charged in the Manhattan District Attorney’s effort to prosecute the Trump companies, but his name was invoked frequently at the monthlong trial, by both sides. In closing arguments Friday, a prosecutor said Trump “explicitly” approved of at least one of the alleged schemes.

The two Trump Organization companies, called the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation, were indicted in July 2021 and accused of using a variety of methods to reduce payroll liability from executive salaries with untaxed bonuses and luxury perks worth millions. 

On Monday, Merchan rejected a defense effort to have a mistrial declared, as well as a challenge to one of New York’s criminal corporate liability statutes as “unconstitutionally vague.”

The Trump Organization’s lawyers said in their closing arguments Thursday that Trump and his company were “betrayed” by Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer who entered a guilty plea in the case in August. 

Prosecutors said Weisselberg was one of several executives who received large annual bonus checks, signed by Trump and logged as if they were payments to independent contractors, and luxury perks such as high-end apartments, private school tuition and cars that were not reported as salary.

Defense attorneys said Trump himself was unaware of the alleged schemes playing out beneath him, while prosecutors said he signed off on them. 

But Merchan reminded the jurors once more Monday that Trump himself was not on trial.

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