As if Donald Trump weren’t already struggling with an avalanche of legal troubles, the former president has also had to contend with a criminal trial into his family business in New York.
Early last month, a jury found the Trump Organization guilty on 17 counts, including scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud, and falsifying business records. This morning, as NBC News reported, the company received its sentence.
The Trump Organization was hit with $1.6 million in fines Friday when a New York judge sentenced it for running a 15-year tax fraud scheme that prosecutors said top executives at the company orchestrated out of pure greed.
As the report added, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said after the verdict that for too long the companies had gotten away “with a scheme that awarded high-level executives with lavish perks and compensation while intentionally concealing the benefits from the taxing authorities to avoid paying taxes.” He said the verdicts held them to account “for their long-running criminal scheme.”
For those who might need a refresher, in 2021, the New York district attorney’s office brought charges against the former president’s business, as well as Allen Weisselberg, the Republican’s long-serving and trusted chief financial officer, alleging widespread tax fraud.
Weisselberg ultimately pleaded guilty and went to jail, but the Trump family business decided to take its chances with a jury. That didn't turn out especially well.
It’s worth emphasizing that the former president himself was not directly charged in this case, though as the trial neared its end, prosecutors alleged the Republican “sanctioned” fraud.
To be sure, today's financial penalty is modest, at least by Team Trump standards. An Associated Press report explained this morning that the $1.6 million fine is the maximum penalty under law: It’s an amount “equal to double the taxes a small group of executives avoided on benefits including rent-free apartments in Trump buildings, luxury cars and private school tuition.”
That said, the conviction is nevertheless unwelcome: His prized family business has now been convicted of multiple felonies, further tarnishing his scandal-plagued reputation.
What's more, as NBC News' report added, "Experts have said the bigger problem for the company is the conviction, because it could affect the Trump Organization's ability to get bank loans." It's an important detail: Lenders and other businesses are likely to start keeping the Trump Organization at arm’s length, since few are eager to partner with convicted enterprises.
A recent New York Times report added that the conviction might also lay the groundwork for the New York district attorney’s office “to intensify its wider criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s business practices — and hush money paid to a porn star who said she had an affair with him — an inquiry that gained momentum in recent months, according to people with knowledge of the matter.”
For his part, the former president has condemned the case as a "witch hunt" — one of the Republican’s overused, go-to complaints. Members of the jury who took a detailed look at the Trump Organization’s business practices clearly disagreed.