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Curtain Rises on Trump Org Fraud Trial

The Trump Organization has been the subject of much legal scrutiny and litigation, but it faces its first criminal trial as the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and Trump lawyers begin picking a jury on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company faces nine criminal counts, including conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records in a trial expected to last about six weeks over charges that the former president's family business illegally paid some executives in cars, apartments and cash. One of those executives, Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, pleaded guilty and is expected to testify for the prosecution in return for a maximum of 100 days in jail, a deal that one Trump Organization lawyer complained to the judge undercut a joint defense strategy they had previously agreed on.

While the trial in New York state Supreme Court will present an embarrassing scene for the former president, and features what one former prosecutor called "a prosecutor's dream" of having the CFO testify for the state, a conviction would hardly constitute a death blow to the business, the New York Times reports. Trump's corporations are not publicly traded, a status that would be harmed more by a criminal conviction. And the potential punishments are relatively minor: a maximum of about $1.7 million in penalties, a rounding error for such a large firm. While a guilty verdict may scare off some potential lenders and business partners, the former president’s business has survived years of scrutiny from prosecutors and lawmakers. It also rebounded from the pandemic, and recently generated hundreds of millions of dollars from selling its Washington hotel, which, along with other deals, enabled it to refinance or retire a significant portion of its debt. The stakes are high for Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg. This is the highest-profile case of his young tenure and could serve as a daily reminder that he has not secured an indictment against Trump himself.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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