Judge Regrets Not Giving Trump Exec Longer Sentence

Allen Weisselberg started serving his 5-month sentence Tuesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 10, 2023 2:36 PM CST
Trump Exec Begins Serving 5-Month Sentence
Allen Weisselberg arrives at the courtroom, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Allen Weisselberg, a longtime executive for Donald Trump's business empire, was taken into custody Tuesday to begin serving a five-month jail term for dodging taxes on $1.7 million in job perks—a punishment the judge who sentenced him said was probably too lenient. Weisselberg, 75, was promised that sentence in August when he agreed to plead guilty to 15 tax crimes and to be a witness against the Trump Organization, where he’s worked since the mid-1980s. His testimony helped convict the former president’s company, where he had served as chief financial officer, of tax fraud. But when he made the sentence official Tuesday, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan said that after listening to Weisselberg's testimony during that trial, he regretted that the penalty wasn't tougher, the AP reports.

The judge said he was especially appalled by testimony that Weisselberg gave his wife a $6,000 check for a no-show job so that she could qualify for Social Security benefits. Had he not already promised to give Weisselberg five months, Merchan said, "I would be imposing a sentence much greater than that." "I'm not going to deviate from the promise, though I believe a stiffer sentence is warranted, having heard the evidence," he added. Weisselberg, who came to court dressed casually for jail, rather than in his usual suit, was handcuffed and taken into custody moments after the sentence was announced. He was expected to be taken to New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex. He will be eligible for release after a little more than three months if he behaves behind bars.

As part of the plea agreement, Weisselberg had also been required to pay nearly $2 million in back taxes, penalties and interest—which he has paid as of Jan. 3. The judge also ordered Weisselberg to complete five years of probation after his jail term is finished. Weisselberg faced the prospect of up to 15 years in prison—the maximum punishment for the top grand larceny charge—if he were to have reneged on the deal or if he didn’t testify truthfully at the Trump Organization’s trial. The Trump Organization is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday and faces a fine of up to $1.6 million. Though he is now on a leave of absence, the company continues to pay Weisselberg $640,000 in salary and $500,000 in holiday bonuses. (More Allen Weisselberg stories.)

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