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Long-time Trump executive pleads guilty


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Long-time Trump executive pleads guilty
Allen Howard Weisselberg, the former Trump Organisation chief finance officer, arrives for a hearing on Thursday at the New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City - Reuters

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New York City – A long-time senior executive at Donald Trump’s family business pleaded guilty on Thursday to helping the company engineer a 15-year tax fraud, in an agreement that will require him to testify about its business practices at an upcoming trial.

Allen Weisselberg, 75, the former chief financial officer at the Trump Organisation, entered his plea to all 15 charges he faced in a New York state court in Manhattan.

Weisselberg, who has worked for Trump for about a half-century, is not expected to cooperate with Manhattan prosecutors in a larger probe they are conducting into Trump.

But his plea will likely strengthen their case against the former president’s company, which manages golf clubs, hotels, and other real estate around the world.

“This plea agreement directly implicates the Trump Organisation in a wide range of criminal activity and requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “We look forward to proving our case in court.”

In a statement, a Trump Organisation spokeswoman called Weisselberg a “fine and honourable man” who has been “harassed, persecuted and threatened by law enforcement, particularly the Manhattan district attorney, in their never ending, politically motivated quest to get President Trump”.

She also said the company did nothing wrong and looked forward to its day in court.

The Trump Organisation has pleaded not guilty and faces possible fines and other penalties if convicted.

Donald Trump, who is embroiled in many legal battles, has not been charged or accused of wrongdoing in the case.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on October 24, two weeks before the November 8 mid-term elections, where Trump’s Republican Party hopes to recapture both houses of Congress from Democrats.

Trump has yet to say whether he plans another White House run in 2024.

(Reuters)