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More indictments seen ahead in Trump Organization case

by The Associated. Press | September 21, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
The Trump Organization's Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, center, leaves after a courtroom appearance in New York, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. Donald Trump's company and its longtime finance chief were charged Thursday in what a prosecutor called a "sweeping and audacious" tax fraud scheme that saw the Trump executive allegedly receive more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation, including apartment rent, car payments and school tuition. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

NEW YORK -- A lawyer for Donald Trump's indicted corporate finance chief told a judge Monday that he has "strong reason to believe" more indictments are coming in New York's investigation into the former president's real estate empire.

Lawyer Bryan Scarlatos made the remark during Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg's first court appearance since his July 1 arraignment on tax-fraud charges. Scarlatos did not say what led him to believe more people would be charged.

In recent weeks, a pair of Trump Organization executives have testified before a grand jury. Under New York law, grand jury witnesses are granted immunity and cannot be charged for conduct they testify about.

The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment.

"Mr. Weisselberg is separate from the Trump Organization. He is the only individual here whose liberty is at stake," Scarlatos said. "What I am concerned about is that he will become collateral damage in a larger fight between the Trump Organization and the DA's office."

Scarlatos raised the issue of more possible indictments while arguing for more time to review up to 6 million pages of documents that he said prosecutors are turning over as evidence, calling it "a herculean task" and saying new indictments would create a "moving target."

Prosecutors said Weisselberg is "no stranger" to many of the documents because they include business records that the executive likely produced or reviewed as part of his job.

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan gave both sides until next spring to file motions and responses. He said he'd decide on motions at a July 2022, hearing, the next time Weisselberg is due in court.

Merchan said he expected to set a trial date at that time and would probably schedule it for the end of August or beginning of September.

"The reason I mention it now is that it's on everybody's radar," Merchan said. "I don't have an exact date yet."

Weisselberg has pleaded innocent to charges he collected more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation, including apartment rent, car payments and school tuition.

Trump's company is also charged in the case, which prosecutors have described as a "sweeping and audacious" tax-fraud scheme.

One of the Trump executives granted immunity to testify before the grand jury is the company's director of security, Matthew Calamari Jr. Prosecutors have been looking at him and his father, Trump Chief Operating Officer Matthew Calamari Sr., in their probe of untaxed benefits.

A lawyer for the Calamaris said in a statement responding to Scarlatos' remarks that he was not aware of any plans to indict the elder Calamari.

"We remain in discussions with the district attorney's office relating to Matthew Calamari (Sr.), but continue to believe there is no basis for indicting him," lawyer Nicholas Gravante said. "If they presently intended to indict him, I would have been informed. I haven't been and, in fact, have been informed to the contrary."

Weisselberg sat quietly next to his lawyers at Monday's brief hearing and didn't speak to reporters on his way to and from court.

Trump himself has not been charged with any wrongdoing. He has condemned the case, the first to arise from New York authorities' two-year investigation into the former president's business dealings, as a "political witch hunt."

Trump has said his company's actions were standard practice in the business and in no way a crime.

Print Headline: More indictments seen ahead in Trump Organization case

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