The Trump Sharpie has now entered the Trump Org trial

The Trump Sharpie has now entered the Trump Org trial

  • The trial of the Trump Organization for tax fraud is in its second week at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse.
  • Jurors on Tuesday saw the first evidence linking the alleged fraud to the very top of the company.
  • The signatures of Donald and Eric Trump may refute defense claims that the scheme was terminated with subordinates.

Jurors in the Trump Organization tax fraud trial have seen the first evidence directly linking Donald Trump to the case, including key documents bearing the former president’s recognizable signatures and initials in Sharpie.

The early prosecution breakthrough came Tuesday in a Manhattan courtroom where Trump’s real estate and golf resort empire is on trial — though not Trump himself — for allegedly helping his executives cheat on income taxes.

Jurors were shown what the prosecution said and what a witness confirmed were Trump’s signatures on some half-dozen important letters and payroll documents. It’s evidence that should have firmly refuted defense claims that the tax avoidance scheme stopped one rung down from the very top of the company, meaning that anyone named Trump was little involved.

The documents were presented by the trial’s first witness, Jeffrey McConney, who as the Trump Organization’s comptroller is responsible for payroll and tax returns.

McConney would finish the trial Tuesday afternoon a positive test for COVID-19 during the lunch break. His testimony – and the trial itself – is scheduled to resume Monday morning.

But during his morning on the stand Tuesday — and between bouts of coughing — McConaughey managed to do some damage to the defense by repeating “Donald Trump,” “Mr. Trump” and “President Trump” as he was asked to identify himself as signatures flashed on screens. court.

“Whose signature is that?” Joshua Steinglass, one of the two lead prosecutors, asked McConney as jurors watched a projection of the May 1, 2005, letter.

“President Trump,” McConaughey said of the signature, identifying the now-famous, mini mountain range in Sharpie ink at the bottom of the letter.

“And is that his full signature?”

“Yes,” McConney replied.

In a 17-year-old letter, Trump personally approved a $6,500-a-month lease for an apartment on the Hudson River in Manhattan; In Trump’s letter, it is written that only his longtime financial director will live there.

“In other words, Donald J. Trump authorized Donald J. Trump to sign the lease” for the apartment, Steinglass asked about the contents of the letter. The cough controller answered “yes”.

“Who signed this lease?” for the apartment, Steinglass asked, showing the lease itself on the screen.

“That’s President Trump’s signature,” McConney replied.

The now-former CFO who enjoyed that free company apartment — at the former Trump Place on Riverside Boulevard — is an even more important witness for the prosecution, Allen Weisselberg, who started with the company when Trump’s father ran it in 1973.

Now a “special counsel” on leave but still drawing his salary and defense attorney on Trump’s dime, Weisselberg admitted in August that he had been living in the apartment for years as part of a package of off-the-books Trump Organization executive “perks.”

The entire case revolves around these “perks” – extra perks that range from luxury cars and apartments to free electronics, carpeting and private school tuition for Weiselberg’s son and grandchildren.

Weisselberg admitted in his guilty plea that he pocketed more than $1.76 million in benefits during the 15 years of the tax avoidance scheme. Although the perks were part of his salary, he never paid income tax on them as required by law.

Weisselberg now failed in the strategy of defense. No one named Trump participated in a tax avoidance scheme, jurors were told in the defense’s opening statements Monday. Instead, the scheme started and stopped with the CFO.

“Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg,” as Trump Organization attorney Michael van der Veen repeatedly told jurors at the opening.

On Tuesday, the prosecution’s theory — which claims that on at least some occasions Trump, and therefore the company, did it for Weisselberg — was bolstered by scattered papers in this already document-rich trial.

At one point Tuesday, jurors saw Trump’s initials in black marker on two invoices from 2011. In one, from PC Richard & Son, Trump signed $1,954.17 for electronics. On the other hand, he signed up for nearly $7,000 worth of carpet from ABC Carpet and Home.

Prosecutors say both the electronics and carpets were part of Weisselberg’s illegal tax-free benefits package.

Eric Trump’s signature also appeared on a 2020 document shown to jurors on Tuesday.

McConney testified that the document was a record of how Eric Trump signed off on the salary for those years for Weisselberg, including $640,000 plus a $500,000 bonus, and for McConney, who was to earn $300,000 plus a $125,000 bonus.

Trump personally signed some of the six-year private school tuition checks for Weiselberg’s grandchildren, prosecutors said in describing the yet-to-be-taxed perks.

“Are you aware that Allen Weisselberg’s grandchildren went to private school” in Manhattan, Steinglass asked McConney on Tuesday.

“Yes,” replied the controller.

When Steinglass asked him the name of the school, McConney replied, “Something Columbia. I don’t remember.”

“Columbia High and Prep?” suggested the prosecutor.

“I believe so,” McConney replied.

“Donald Trump’s son went there, too?” continued the prosecutor.

“I believe so,” McConney replied again.

“Who paid the school fees” for Weiselberg’s grandchildren, the prosecutor asked.

“Mr. Trump,” the controller muttered.

“Did you say Mr. Trump?” asked the prosecutor.

“President Trump,” the controller replied.

“Did he sign those checks himself?” asked the prosecutor.

“I believe so, yes,” replied the controller.

“Who decided that Donald Trump would pay Allen Weisselberg’s tuition,” the prosecutor then asked.

This was a strategic issue. Could the defense pin this on Weiselberg doing it for Weiselberg? Who but Trump can decide to take the cap off his marker and sign his checks?

“I have no idea,” the comptroller replied, one of the few times he stopped short of implying “the boss,” as he called the former president.

Those tuition checks signed by Trump, including one totaling $89,000 from 2015, have yet to be shown to jurors.

Now sick with COVID, McConey won’t be back in court — and the trial won’t resume and the tuition checks will remain in the works — until Monday morning at the earliest.

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