NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial dropped their case early Monday, pinning hopes of convicting Donald Trump’s company largely on the word of two top executives who concluded settlements before testifying that he conspired to avoid corporate tax – paid benefits.

Allen Weisselberg, the company’s longtime chief financial officer, and Jeffrey McConney, senior vice president and comptroller, testified for most of the prosecution’s eight-day case, bringing the drama of their own admitted guilt to a numbers-heavy trial. spreadsheets, tax returns and payroll records.

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty in August to tax evasion on $1.7 million in extras, was required to testify as a prosecution witness as part of a plea deal in exchange for a promised five-month prison sentence. McConney was granted immunity to testify.

Trump Organization attorneys are expected to begin calling witnesses Monday afternoon, likely starting with an accountant who has handled years of tax returns and other financial matters for Trump, the Trump Organization, and hundreds of Trump entities.

Prosecutors had considered calling the accountant, Mazars USA LLP partner Donald Bender, but decided against it. The defense indicated they would call him instead.

Prosecutors called only three other witnesses: the Trump Organization’s accounts payable supervisor, a forensic accountant for the Manhattan district attorney’s office and a state tax auditor, on the witness stand Monday, who investigated the Weisselberg.

Weisselberg, now a senior counsel at the firm, testified last week that he conspired with McConney, his subordinate, to hide more than a decade of extras from his taxable income, but that neither Trump nor his family were involved.

McConney testified that Weisselberg and another executive, Michael Calamari Sr., leaned on him over the years to falsify payroll records to hide extras like Manhattan apartments and Mercedes-Benz cars from their taxable income, in part reducing their salaries by the cost of those benefits and issuing forged W-2 forms.

Manhattan prosecutors say the Trump Organization helped top executives avoid paying taxes on benefits paid by the company and is responsible for Weisselberg’s crime because he was a “high-level managerial agent” acting on his behalf. I count.

The tax fraud case is the only trial resulting from the Manhattan District Attorney’s three-year investigation into Trump and his business practices. If convicted, the company could be fined more than $1 million and face difficulties closing deals.

Trump blamed Bender and Mazars for the firm’s woes, writing on his Truth Social platform last week: “Highly paid accounting firm should have been picking up these things regularly — we relied on them. VERY UNFAIR!”

Mazars cut ties with Trump in February and said the annual financial statements she prepared for him “should no longer be trusted” after New York Attorney General Letitia James said he routinely misreported the value of shares. activities.

James filed a lawsuit in September accusing Trump and his company of increasing his net worth by billions of dollars and routinely misleading banks and others about the value of assets such as golf courses, hotels and his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Trump’s financial statements are not part of the criminal case.

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