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Trump Group protection rests case in prison tax fraud trial By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally to help Republican candidates forward of midterm elections, in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. November 7, 2022. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse

By Luc Cohen and Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Attorneys for former U.S. President Donald Trump’s actual property firm rested their case on Monday after calling simply two witnesses within the Trump Group’s prison trial in a New York state court docket on tax fraud costs.

Outdoors accountant Donald Bender wrapped up his testimony for the protection and was adopted on the witness stand by a paralegal from the workplaces of one of many protection legal professionals. Juan Merchan, the choose within the case, set closing arguments for Thursday and Friday with jury deliberations anticipated to start subsequent Monday.

Prosecutors in Manhattan have accused the Trump Group, which operates resorts, golf programs and different actual property world wide, of conducting a 15-year tax fraud scheme to pay private bills for executives and partly compensate them as in the event that they had been unbiased contractors.

The corporate, which faces fines of as much as $1.6 million if convicted, has pleaded not responsible. Trump, who this month launched a run for the presidency in 2024, has not been charged within the case.

The prosecution rested its case every week in the past.

The Trump Group has sought to shift the blame to former chief monetary officer Allen Weisselberg, who was charged final 12 months together with the corporate and has pleaded responsible to tax fraud and different costs, and Bender, who it maintains ought to have blown the whistle on Weisselberg’s conduct.

Bender, who has been given immunity from prosecution, testified final week that he trusted that Weisselberg gave him correct monetary data, and that his function was restricted.

“We had sturdy conversations,” Bender testified on Monday, explaining that Weisselberg mentioned he met the factors to be paid as an unbiased contractor.

Bender’s testimony appeared to backfire on the protection and bolster the prosecution’s case.

Weisselberg has labored for the Trump household for about 5 a long time, however is now not CFO and is on paid go away. Underneath a plea settlement with prosecutors, Weisselberg is ready to serve a five-month jail sentence.

He and several other different executives improperly obtained bonus funds as non-employee compensation, trial proof confirmed. The corporate additionally offered luxurious residences, automotive leases and paid for different private bills for Weisselberg and different executives, which weren’t reported as revenue.

Trump, a Republican, has referred to as the costs towards the corporate politically motivated. Alvin Bragg, the present Manhattan district lawyer, is a Democrat, as is the DA who introduced the costs final 12 months, Cyrus Vance.

“The case was not truthful or good,” Trump wrote on Monday on social media.

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