A Top Trump Lieutenant Is Paraded Into New York Court in Handcuffs
(Bloomberg) -- It was probably the longest walk of his life.
A handcuffed Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, was paraded down a hallway the length of a city block past scores of reporters and photographers Thursday afternoon into a courtroom for what Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office had billed, in characteristic understatement, as “an arraignment of significant interest.”
Flanked by two detectives and a half dozen officers, Weisselberg arrived in court more than six hours after surrendering to prosecutors. Wearing a dark gray suit, light blue dress shirt and a KN95 mask, the 73-year-old grandfather furrowed his brow and his face reddened as two court officers struggled briefly to unlock his handcuffs. He visibly sighed after his lawyer, Mary Mulligan, patted him on the back before the proceedings began.
When it came time to unveil the charges against Weisselberg, Carey Dunne, one of Vance’s top deputies, described a “sweeping and audacious” 15-year scheme to avoid taxes on $1.76 million in perks including Mercedes Benz cars, a rent-free Upper West Side apartment and private-school tuition for his grandchildren, as well as an alleged cover-up that involved directing underlings to delete records. Rather than cooperating, Dunne said the Trump Organization had forced prosecutors to go twice to the U.S. Supreme Court as the former president fought for three years to keep his tax records secret.
But Weisselberg’s voice was firm when acting New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan asked him to weigh in on larceny and other charges in the indictment that could send him to prison for more than a decade.
“Not guilty, your Honor,” he said, his only publicly spoken words during the 20-minute hearing.
Before Weisselberg could be released without bail, Assistant District Attorney Solomon Shinerock got him to agree to surrender his passport, voicing concern to the judge that a person of the CFO’s means working for a company “with international tentacles” could disappear to a place “beyond our powers of extradition.”
Weisselberg then left the courtroom with his lawyers, saying nothing to the media scrum.
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