5.9k Share this
Two prosecutors leading the Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal tax fraud investigation into Donald Trump and his family business have abruptly resigned, it was reported on Wednesday.
Attorneys Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz stepped down from the case after new Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg expressed doubts over moving forward with a case against Trump, the New York Times reported.
The investigation, which runs parallel to a tax fraud probe into the Trump Organization by New York Attorney General Letitia James, is looking at whether the former president’s family business misrepresented the value of its assets and allowed certain executives to scuttle taxes by compensating them with off-the-books perks.
Sources close to the investigation said it had ground to a month-long halt in the middle of prosecutors’ presentation of evidence to a grand jury.
Bragg’s team has also reportedly not questioned any witnesses for more than a month, after postponing a plan to grill at least one person absent the DA’s go-ahead.
Attorneys Mark F. Pomerantz (left) and Carey Dunne (right) abruptly stepped down from the Southern District of New York’s investigation
The sudden shake-up threatens to derail the investigation, which was started by former District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in 2018.
Meanwhile, the grand jury convened to help look into the Trump real estate empire’s term expires in April.
The investigation was heating up late last year when then-DA Vance convened the grand jury. Witnesses have reportedly included a Mazars USA accountant with knowledge of Trump’s financial disclosures and a former executive from Deutche Bank, one of the ex-president’s biggest lenders before it cut ties with him.
It’s not clear why Bragg is stepping away from it now.
In December shortly before taking office he pledged to focus on the high-profile probe.
‘This is obviously a consequential case, one that merits the attention of the DA personally,’ Bragg told CNN at the time.
The Southern District of New York is investigating Trump and his company for possible tax fraud
Shortly before taking office, new District Attorney Alvin Bragg vowed on CNN to ‘personally’ focus on the high profile investigation
Trump himself has frequently dismissed both James and Bragg’s probes as politically motivated ‘witch hunts.’
He’s previously urged the New York prosecutors to instead focus on the rising rate of violent crime in the Big Apple, amid a nationwide crimewave that’s gripped the nation’s big cities.
Pomerantz, who once headed the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s criminal division, joined the investigation in February of last year.
He entered private practice after leading the SDNY’s appellate unit, defending clients in dozens of organized crime cases at a time when prosecutors dramatically escalated efforts to put Mafia bosses behind bars. On the public side he also played a key role in the prosecution of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti.
His and Dunne’s departure effectively killed the case, former SDNY prosecutor and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich said.
‘The two top investigator/prosecutors resign= the Manhattan DA’s criminal case is dead,’ Bromwich wrote on Twitter.
Allen Weisselberg is accused of evading taxes on $1.7 million in pay and benefits as the Manhattan District Attorney looks into whether Donald Trump’s real estate empire misrepresented the value of its assets and compensated executives with lavish off-the-books gifts that went untaxed
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal fixer who Pomerantz interviewed in the Trump Organization probe soon after coming aboard, accused New York City prosecutors of a dereliction of duty upon hearing of the lawyers’ departure.
‘I am deeply disturbed by this report. I know the information in the NYDA’s possession and not to indict is a dereliction of duty to all New Yorkers and the Country,’ Cohen said.
The case has so far produced criminal charges against both the Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
Weisselberg’s attorneys filed a court briefing on Tuesday asking to get his tax fraud charges thrown out, arguing that the executive was merely ‘collateral damage’ in New York prosecutors’ ‘yearslong pursuit of Mr. Weisselberg’s longtime boss, Donald J. Trump.’
Both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.
The longtime CFO is accused of evading taxes on $1.7 million in pay and benefits, a charge his legal team wants thrown out. They also argue that a charge over failing to pay local taxes on a luxury New York City apartment fall outside of the statute of limitations by three years or more.
The former president has not been charged nor accused of wrongdoing in neither Bragg nor James’ probes.
However he faced a massive legal setback earlier this month when a judge ruled that he and two of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, must sit for depositions in the Attorney General’s civil probe.
James’ office is looking into whether the company mislead lenders, investors and tax authorities on the value of Trump properties.
In another blow, top accounting firm Mazars USA, which has long handled the ex-president’s corporate and private tax returns, severed its ties with the Trump Organization in early February.
Trump lashed out at both James’ and Bragg’s investigations after his longtime accounting firm Mazars cut ties with his company and distanced itself from 10 years of financial data
Court documents show the company washed its hands of a decades’ worth of Trump financial statements it prepared, claiming they could no longer be considered reliable.
Trump unleashed on James and Bragg over the matter on Sunday, accusing them of ‘frightening’ Mazars into cutting him out.
‘My long-term accounting firm didn’t leave me for any other reason than they were harassed, abused, and frightened by DA’s and AG’s that for years have been threatening them with indictment and ruination,’ he said through his Save America PAC.
‘They were “broken” by these Radical Left racist prosecutors, and couldn’t take it anymore.’
Mazars accountant Donald Bender, who had been responsible for handling the Trump Organization’s financial information for years, appeared before a grand jury assembled by the previous Manhattan DA last year.