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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Callum Jones and Lauren Aratani in New York

Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty to perjury

a balding man in a blue suit, blue tie and glasses frowns with his head held low
Allen Weisselberg on 17 November 2022 in New York, New York. Photograph: Michael M Santiago/Getty Images

Allen Weisselberg, a longtime lieutenant to Donald Trump, faces five months in jail after reaching an agreement with prosecutors in New York to plead guilty to perjury in the former US president’s recent civil fraud trial charges.

As the former chief financial officer in the Trump Organization, Weisselberg was key in helping Trump record his net worth. A defendant in the fraud trial, Weisselberg was accused of helping to inflate Trump’s net worth on government financial documents, misleading lenders.

That trial ended with a judge imposing a huge financial penalty of more than $450m including interest on Trump. Weisselberg, 76, was ordered to pay $1.1m and permanently banned from serving in the financial control function of any New York business.

Weisselberg also faces five months in jail after pleading guilty to perjury. His formal sentencing will take place in April.

On the witness stand in October, Weisselberg was evasive, often saying he did not recall the real-estate valuations that were at the center of the trial.

But a key moment of his testimony came when Weisselberg insisted he did not notice a discrepancy on Trump’s financial statements: that Trump’s triplex apartment was listed as being 30,000 sq ft when in reality, it is closer to 11,000 sq ft.

“It was de minimus, in my mind,” he said at the time.

Forbes magazine disputed the claim he made on the stand, saying it had emails and notes that proved Weisselberg had actively tried to convince the magazine for years that the triplex was bigger than it actually was, denying what was listed on real-estate documents. Weisselberg abruptly ended his testimony after Forbes published an article accusing him of lying on the stand.

In exchange for Weisselberg pleading guilty to perjury in the fraud trial, the Manhattan district attorney’s office agreed to not prosecute Weisselberg for any other crimes he may have committed during his time at the Trump Organization.

The district attorney’s office is taking Trump to court later this month over hush-money payments sent to the adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election. Trump is accused of falsifying business records by reporting hush-money payments as “legal fees” on records.

It is unclear what role, if any, Weisselberg will play in that case. But his guilty plea on the perjury charge would make it easier for prosecutors in the hush-money case to deem him an unreliable witness.

The district attorney’s office said in a statement: “It is a crime to lie in depositions and at trial – plain and simple. Allen Weisselberg took an oath to be truthful, and then committed perjury both at depositions during the New York state attorney general’s investigation and proceeding, as well as at their recent trial.

“Today, Allen Weisselberg is pleading guilty to this felony and being held responsible for his conduct.”

Weisselberg left the Trump Organization last year but has remained loyal to his former boss. The company agreed to pay him severance of $2m.

In 2022, Weisselberg pleaded guilty to allegations of tax fraud at the heart of the former president’s real estate empire. He spent 100 days in New York’s notorious Rikers Island prison after testifying against the Trump Organization.

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