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Politics Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg worried about prosecutors getting his financial documents in 2018, ex-daughter-in-law says

20:31  14 june  2021
20:31  14 june  2021 Source:   businessinsider.com

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a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Trump Organization CFO's ex-daughter-in-law Jennifer Weisselberg carries boxes of documents and a laptop giving to prosecutors outside her apartment in Manhattan, New York on April 8, 2021. Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post via Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider Trump Organization CFO's ex-daughter-in-law Jennifer Weisselberg carries boxes of documents and a laptop giving to prosecutors outside her apartment in Manhattan, New York on April 8, 2021. Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • Allen Weisselberg took steps to avoid showing pay stubs as federal prosecutors investigated Michael Cohen, his ex-daughter-in-law says.
  • He struck an unusual rental agreement that's now leading to her eviction, Jennifer Weisselberg said.
  • The Trump Organization CFO is now a key figure in the Manhattan DA's probe of the company.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg took measures to keep his financial documents from prosecutors examining the company's practices as far back as 2018, according to his former daughter-in-law.

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In a series of interviews with Insider, Jennifer Weisselberg described in detail how the Trump Organization's chief financial officer, who is reportedly a target in the Manhattan District Attorney's investigation into the company, made an unusual housing arrangement for her as she divorced his son, Barry. The arrangement allowed Allen Weisselberg to act as a guarantor on an Upper West Side apartment without showing any proof of income, she said.

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Complications from that arrangement arose in recent weeks, as court records show her landlord is trying to evict her - a measure she claims is retaliation for her cooperation with prosecutors.

Allen Weisselberg's arrangement has allowed her to live in an apartment building managed by one of his friends in the real estate business, she said. The friend, real estate mogul Lawrence Gluck, permitted her to live in the unit without requiring her or Allen Weisselberg to show any proof of income, she said.

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Rental agreements typically require tenants and guarantors to show pay stubs or tax forms demonstrating income of at least 40 times the monthly rent amount. Jennifer Weisselberg said the arrangement allowed Allen Weisselberg to avoid showing pay stubs from the Trump Organization.

She also said she preferred to live in a different apartment building, but Allen Weisselberg forced her to live in that location because of Gluck's closeness to himself and to now-former president Donald Trump.

"I found several other apartments," Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. "And he said, 'No, you're going to have to move. I called Larry Gluck, and because Donald and Larry and I have a long history of doing real estate together for decades. He's going to allow me to be the guarantor without having to show any actual financial documents.'"

Allen Weisselberg took the measures to ensure no one would see Trump Organization payroll documents, she said.

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An attorney for Allen Weisselberg declined to comment.

It's "highly unusual" for a landlord to agree not to scrutinize a tenant and guarantor's income to rent out an apartment, according to Samuel Himmelstein, a New York City-based tenant's rights lawyer.

"I've never seen a situation where the landlord didn't scrutinize the income of the guarantor in that situation," Himmelstein said. "Because then he'd potentially have two people who weren't able to cover the rent."

The Trump Organization CFO was worried about federal prosecutors, according to Jennifer Weisselberg

Jennifer Weisselberg said the rental agreement was struck at a time when federal prosecutors in Manhattan were investigating Michael Cohen, who at the time was a Trump Organization executive and personal lawyer for Donald Trump.

The lease agreement was signed in October 2018 and has been renewed since then, contracts reviewed by Insider show.

Earlier that year, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York raided Cohen's office. Prosecutors ultimately secured a guilty plea on charges of tax evasion and campaign finance violations for a plot that involved Cohen using Trump Organization funds to pay off and silence Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who said she had an affair with Trump. Trump was openly furious about the investigation and Cohen's plea agreement.

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Allen Weisselberg was worried about becoming ensnared in the investigation himself, his former daughter-in-law said.

"It's because he didn't want to share financials during the SDNY investigation," Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. "He doesn't want them out there."

a man wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a window: Michael Cohen in Trump Tower in 2016. Drew Angerer/Getty Images © Drew Angerer/Getty Images Michael Cohen in Trump Tower in 2016. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In sentencing memos filed that December, federal prosecutors made clear that Cohen acted at Trunmp's direction. As president of the United States, Trump was immune from federal prosecution at the time. Since Trump left office in February of this year, neither federal prosecutors in Manhattan or any other division of the Justice Department have given any public indication that they seek to charge him in the case, as Insider's C. Ryan Barber and Warren Rojas previously reported.

While federal prosecutors may be leaving the Trump Organization alone, Cohen's comments and public testimony about how the Trump Organization handles its finances sparked multiple state-level investigations in New York.

Allen Weisselberg is now a key figure in those investigations. Prosecutors are seeking his cooperation and reportedly examining whether he should be charged with criminal conduct.

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The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is in the end stages of an investigation into whether the company and Trump himself distorted property valuations in order to reap tax, loan, and insurance benefits. Those acts could lead to charges for tax, wire, and insurance fraud, legal experts say.

That investigation is running in tandem with a probe in the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, which is examining many of the same issues. Vance's office has empaneled a special grand jury and earlier this month reportedly heard testimony from Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney, who is said to work closely with Allen Weisselberg.

Allen Weisselberg has worked with the Trump family for more than 40 years, overseeing their personal finances in addition to his role as the Trump Organization's CFO. Prosecutors have been seeking his cooperation to help guide them through the possibly hundreds of thousands of pages of financial documents they already subpoenaed from the company.

Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. are posing for a picture: Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Donald Trump Jr. in 2017. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images © TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Donald Trump Jr. in 2017. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Jennifer Weisselberg has been cooperating with investigators from both offices since last fall. She's given interviews with investigators several times, she said, and handed over "several boxes of documents" stemming from her divorce, which include financial documents related to the Trump Organization. She told Insider that prosecutors have asked her about how the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg operate, and have pressured family members in order to get Weisselberg to "flip."

Pressure mounts on Trump Organization CFO to cooperate against Donald Trump

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It's not clear whether Allen Weisselberg has already agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and whether he has been asked to testify in front of the grand jury. Prosecutors typically strive to secure a cooperation agreement with witnesses before calling them before a grand jury, so that the witnesses don't receive immunity for their testimony.

Jennifer Weisselberg says her former father-in-law is behind an effort to evict her

The legal complications stemming from Jennifer and Allen Weisselberg's unusual rent agreement have reached a new phase in recent weeks.

In early 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic struck, Jennifer Weisselberg said she lost her job managing musical theater acts and fell behind on rent payments for the apartment.

In November, Columbus Manor LLC, the entity that owns the Upper West Side apartment building, sued Jennifer and Allen Weisselberg and alleged they owed $54,450 in unpaid rent that had accrued since February 2020. The company is owned by Stellar Management, which is run by Lawrence Gluck.

Columbia Manor LLC withdrew the lawsuit on April 29, without Allen or Jennifer Weisselberg filing a response in court, records reviewed by Insider show. CBS News first reported on the existence of the lawsuit.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Former President Donald Trump. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File © Provided by Business Insider Former President Donald Trump. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that in April, her building manager told her that her back pay was "made whole." She said the manager, Trevor Matwey, said the back pay was made by a law firm directly through Stellar Management and he could not produce a receipt for her. She told Insider that she believed Allen Weisselberg made the payment.

"They won't show me proof that it's been paid," Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. "Trevor Matwey in the management office said, 'Jenn, you're good to go. All of the back pay has been worked out. You're good. You don't owe anything.'"

After the lawsuit was withdrawn and believing her rent had been paid, she said she signed papers to renew her lease for May. But on May 18, Columbus Manor LLC filed a new lawsuit, naming only Jennifer Weisselberg as the defendant. The new lawsuit claimed that her lease expired on April 30, that "no renewal is required" for the lease, and that she should be evicted.

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that, because she believes the rent has been made whole, she should not be evicted from her apartment. She believes Allen Weisselberg is behind the eviction lawsuit from Stellar Management because she has cooperated with the investigations into the Trump Organization and spoken to the media about it.

a man and a woman standing next to a suitcase: A DA investigator carries boxes of documents and a laptop from Jennifer Weisselberg outside her apartment in Manhattan, New York on April 8, 2021. Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post via Getty Images © Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post via Getty Images A DA investigator carries boxes of documents and a laptop from Jennifer Weisselberg outside her apartment in Manhattan, New York on April 8, 2021. Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The new lawsuit says that Jennifer Weisselberg should further owe the real estate company the agreed-upon $6,050 monthly rent for the apartment until she leaves the premises. It does not mention the $54,450 the company previously said she owed.

Columbia Manor LLC is seeking to evict Jennifer Weisselberg through an ejection order in New York state court. Himmelstein told Insider that landlords rarely file for eviction through that mechanism without also seeking back rent.

"Typically, the landlords seek possession of the apartment and they also seek the back rent," Himmelstein said. "So is it unusual that they didn't also sue for the back rent? Yes, that's unusual."

A representative for Gluck and Stellar Management said they would not comment on an individual tenant's financial situation. Kevin Cullen, the attorney leading the eviction litigation against Jennifer Weisselberg, declined to comment. Matwey didn't respond to requests for comment.

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that she expects to be able to remain in her apartment for now because of New York state's eviction moratorium, which runs through September. She expects she'll owe thousands of dollars more in legal fees to fight the lawsuit.

Mike Pence, Donald Trump are posing for a picture: Allen Weisselberg, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump in Trump Tower in 2017. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images © TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images Allen Weisselberg, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump in Trump Tower in 2017. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

She said she has already liquidated part of her 401(k) to pay for ongoing civil litigation with her ex-husband over matrimonial disputes, which she believes Allen Weisselberg controls and finances. The attorney representing Barry Weisselberg in the case didn't respond to Insider's request for comment.

Jennifer Weisselberg said that the eviction is yet another way her former father-in-law has exerted control over her - and Barry's - lives. In earlier interviews with Insider, she described how the Trump Organization arranged for the couple to receive perks like apartments and tuition payments in lieu of a regular salary to avoid taxes and influence their decisions.

"It's so controlling," she told Insider in March. "Because if you want to leave and make the same money - you live there. If you want to leave, where are you going to live?"

Read the original article on Business Insider

Pressure mounts on Trump Organization CFO to cooperate against Donald Trump .
The Trump Organization's chief financial officer is staring down a decision: whether to cooperate with prosecutors against former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization or potentially face criminal tax-related charges. © JB MILLER/TRUMP ORGANIZATION/andrew harrer/getty images The Manhattan district attorney's office and New York attorney general's tax investigation into Allen Weisselberg, involving a corporate apartment, cars and school tuition for his grandchildren, is at an advanced stage, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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