The Trump Organization was ordered to pay a $1.6 million criminal penalty for perpetrating a tax fraud scheme in which top executives were given an array of under-the-table perks.
The fine comes after the former president’s companies were convicted of 17 charges related to the scheme last month, and just days after longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in prison for failing to pay taxes on the apartment, cars, school tuition, and other goodies the company hooked him up with.
The $1.6 million fine was the maximum punishment the company could have received, which is practically pocket change for the Trump Organization. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Friday called for the bar to be raised for lawbreaking companies. “I want to be very clear, we don’t think that is enough,” he told reporters outside the courtroom. “Our laws in this state need to change in order to capture this type of decade-plus systemic, egregious fraud.”
Bragg made sure not to minimize the significance of the conviction. “This conviction was consequential, the first time ever for criminal conviction of former President Trump’s companies, and indeed I would go so far as to say the first time ever for any former president certainly in my lifetime,” he added.
Trump himself was not charged in the scheme, although prosecutors argued that he “explicitly sanctioned” it. Weisselberg, whose guilty plea required him to “testify truthfully,” told the court the untaxed rent he received from the Trump Organization was “authorized” by Trump.
The fine levied on Friday brings an end to what prosecutors alleged was a 15-year scheme in which executives like Weisselberg saw the company illegally pay for everything from their rent, to their parking, to their children’s school tuition. Bragg’s office is still looking into the Trump Organization, however, which will continue to operate — albeit with the albatross of a criminal conviction — despite last month’s verdict. There’s also the $250 million lawsuit New York Attorney General Letitia James filed against Trump in September, which also seeks to ban him from doing business in the state.
The Trump Organization has 14 days to pay the $1.6 million fine handed down on Friday.