The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is considering pressing new charges against one of former President Donald Trump’s longtime allies, 75-year-old Allen Weisselberg, including one for perjury, sources with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times.
The threat comes after D.A. Alvin Bragg unveiled an indictment of the former president in March, marking the newest effort in his campaign to persuade Weisselberg to testify against Trump.
The former Trump Organization chief financial officer, who was recently released from the Rikers Island jail complex, has refused to go against Trump, but prosecutors have warned his attorneys that they might bring a perjury charge against him if he declines to testify, two of the sources said.
According to the sources, the charge would pertain to comments he made under oath in a 2020 interview with the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is conducting her own civil investigation into Trump and his family business.
That year investigators, who questioned Weisselberg again last month for the ongoing probe, asked Weisselberg about glaring errors in Trump’s financial statements, prompting James to sue them both in 2021 for overstating Trump’s net worth by billions of dollars.
Court records show Weisselberg acknowledged the Trump Organization overestimated the value of Trump’s penthouse by “give or take” $200 million, though it’s unclear which parts of his testimony are of concern for prosecutors or how Bragg will prove he intentionally made a false statement.
Weisselberg, who worked for Trump for nearly 50 years, could be a valuable witness in several ways, The Times reported. His testimony could assist in Bragg’s criminal case against the former president, which pertains to a hush money payment to an adult film star during his 2016 presidential campaign, as well as the civil investigation into Trump’s statements about his finances that James’ office is participating in.
If Weisselberg refuses to cooperate with the D.A., he could be subject to a host of charges in addition to the perjury charge. Prosecutors have informed his lawyers that they’re considering unrelated insurance charges against him as they seem to also be considering whether to charge him for inflating numbers on Trump’s financial statements.
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There is no indication that Weisselberg will decide to testify or that charges will be filed, The Times said, but this pressure from prosecutors has sparked a debate about the fairness of threatening an elderly man who was recently released from prison.
“The guy has already been prosecuted and served his time, and he’s 75 years old,” Daniel Horwitz a criminal defense lawyer who once worked in the district attorney’s office, told the Times. “Most defense lawyers are going to scratch their heads and say, ‘Is this fair?’
However, NYU School of Law legal ethics professor Stephen Gillers said that there “would be nothing improper about charging Mr. Weisselberg a second time with different crimes.”
The district attorney’s office’s first efforts to pressure Weisselberg came to a head in 2021 when former D.A. Cy Vance brought criminal charges against him and the Trump Organization in a tax fraud case when he was unable to get Weisselberg’s assistance.
Though he refused to implicate his former boss, Weisselberg did testify against the Trump Organization, which paid him a hefty sum after he retired, and ultimately plead guilty. The company was convicted, and as part of his plea deal, Weisselberg spent 100 days in Rikers Island.
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