Trump org. was secretly held in contempt for interfering with the probe

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s company last year obstructed a grand jury investigation by repeatedly failing to turn over evidence in a timely manner, leading to a classified contempt finding and a $4,000 fine, according to court documents released Tuesday. were created.

The Trump Organization was found to have “deliberately disobeyed” four grand jury subpoenas and three court orders, to the detriment of Manhattan prosecutors who were ill-prepared to question witnesses, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan ruled.

The subpoenas, issued in March, April, May and June 2021, preceded the Trump Organization’s July 2021 indictment of criminal tax fraud for helping executives evade taxes on benefits paid by the company. The company was convicted this month and faces a fine of up to $1.6 million.

The $4,000 fine for contempt was the maximum allowed by law.

It is yet another row involving Trump and accusations of mishandling or withholding data. In April, a judge found Trump in contempt and fined him $110,000 for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena from the New York Attorney General. The former president is also under investigation for storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Merchan vaguely referred to the Trump Organization’s contempt proceeding as he presided over the company’s criminal trial, saying he would wait until after it was over to release documents related to an unspecified proceeding held last year.

Those proceedings turned out to be the Trump Organization’s closed-door contempt trial on Oct. 7, 2021, and Merchan’s partially redacted 28-page statement denouncing the company, which he issued on Dec. 8, 2021.

Although the company’s name was blacked out in the minutes released Tuesday, the details in the decision and the way it was unsealed by the judge made it clear who was involved.

Prosecutors in Manhattan, frustrated with the company’s lack of compliance, had demanded “coercive penalties” of $60,000 a day, Merchan said.

Attorneys for the Trump Organization argued that the company had provided a steady stream of documents, at one point totaling more than 3.5 million pages of documents, but Merchan said that was “just enough to deny” the prosecution’s request. to deflect punishment “while never fully meeting any of the deadlines.”

“When challenged, the company came up with one excuse after another,” Merchan wrote. “Sometimes it claimed it was impossible to meet deadlines because the requirements were too bulky, broad, or vague. wrong” or technical issues.

In the recently concluded criminal tax fraud trial, two Trump Organization corporate entities were convicted on December 6 of charges including conspiracy and falsifying business records. Sentencing is scheduled for January 13. The defense said it would appeal. Trump himself was not on trial.

The company’s former chief of finance, Allen Weisselberg, previously pleaded guilty to charges that he manipulated the company’s books to illegally lower its taxes on $1.7 million in benefits, such as a Manhattan apartment and luxury cars . He testified in exchange for a promised five-month prison sentence.


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