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The Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, will go on trial Oct. 24 in a tax fraud case, after a New York state judge rejected their request to dismiss the case against them.

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were charged last year with conspiring to avoid income taxes by paying certain employees in unreported perks. Weisselberg, 74, was allegedly the main beneficiary of the scheme, receiving benefits including a free Manhattan luxury apartment and Mercedes-Benz cars for both him and his wife.

The Oct. 24 date is the beginning of jury selection in the trial.

Though former president Donald Trump is not a defendant in the case, a trial for his company and a longtime business associate comes as he is facing a rising tide of legal threats of his own.

His Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida was searched on Monday by federal agents investigating his possible removal of confidential documents from the White House, and he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Wednesday to avoid answering deposition questions in a civil probe of his family real estate business by New York Attorney General Letitia James. 

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were charged last July with conspiring to avoid income taxes by paying certain employees in unreported perks. Weisselberg was allegedly the main beneficiary of the scheme, receiving benefits including a free Manhattan luxury apartment and Mercedes-Benz cars for both him and his wife. 

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization pleaded not guilty to the charges and asked the judge to dismiss the case. The CFO argued in court filings he was charged mainly because he refused to cooperate in a prosecution of Trump. 

Two veteran prosecutors who led the investigation resigned in February alleging newly sworn-in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg stopped supporting their push to bring criminal charges against the former president. Bragg has said that the investigation is ongoing. Trump unsuccessfully fought against having to sit for James’s deposition in part by arguing that her civil probe was a smokescreen to gather evidence for Bragg’s criminal investigation.

Weisselberg said prosecutors told him at a meeting before his July 2021 indictment that his only “way out" would be to cooperate with their probe into Trump. He said was also warned that one of his sons could face charges.

The CFO also argued the state indictment was barred by a federal immunity he was given for testifying during an investigation of former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen’s hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Weisselberg claims the New York case is largely based on evidence provided by a vengeful Cohen, who was convicted on federal charges and has since become a fierce Trump critic.

Both Weisselberg and the company argued the district attorney had no authority to bring charges for alleged avoidance of federal income tax. They also suggested that some of the perks could be characterized as “gifts" made by Trump himself rather than income paid by the company. 

In arguing against dismissal of the charges, Bragg denied selectively targeting the Trump Organization and Weisselberg arguing the charges were “ordinary" and “based on criminal tax evasion that took place in New York County and is of the sort this office regularly prosecutes. It arises from the fact that Allen Weisselberg violated the basic imperative that all New Yorkers faithfully report and pay tax on their income."

The prosecutors also said the investigation was launched in response to a Bloomberg News story from November 2020 that described how the Trump Organization relied on various in-kind payment practices to help reduce its tax bills.

The case is NY v. Trump Organization, 01473-2021, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan). 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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