Trump Organization Found In Criminal Contempt In Tax Fraud Case
A New York judge said the Trump Organization “willfully disobeyed” his orders to comply with grand jury subpoenas.
(Bloomberg) -- A New York judge found the Trump Organization in criminal contempt, saying it had “willfully disobeyed” his orders and withheld evidence in the tax fraud case against it, a person familiar with the matter said.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who presided over the trial of two Trump Organization companies convicted on Dec. 6 — Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. — unsealed the year-old ruling on Tuesday. In it, he found the business had disobeyed three orders he issued as part of a grand jury investigation led by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. He imposed a $4,000 fine.
While the name of the entity he found in contempt was redacted in the ruling, it is the Trump Organization, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter isn’t public.
“There comes a time when a court must enforce its authority,” Merchan said in the Dec. 8, 2021, order. “In this matter, that time is now.”
Susan Necheles, a lawyer for Trump Corp., and Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Payroll Corp., didn’t immediately return emails and voicemails seeking comment on the ruling.
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Tuesday’s unsealing solved something of a mystery that presented itself this Dec. 5, the day the jurors got the case after a monthlong trial in lower Manhattan. After they filed out of the courtroom to begin their deliberations, Merchan told the lawyers he was releasing a ruling he had kept sealed to “ensure that the defendants would not be prejudiced in any way.”
Adding a touch of extra drama to the moment, the judge said “the issues covered in that opinion are of significant public concern.”
Merchan, who held a one-day trial on the matter without a jury last year, found the Trump Organization had “willfully withheld” evidence. He said in the ruling that prosecutors had asked him to impose “coercive sanctions” on the business of as much as $60,000 a day but that he had “exercised restraint” and instead merely warned it to comply.
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But the firm repeatedly gave “one excuse after another,” failing to turn over hundreds of pages of evidence sought by the grand jury, an act of defiance the judge called “inexcusable.” In one instance, it didn’t turn over documents related to a witness until three days after she testified before the grand jury, he said.
The court “must now compel respect for its mandates to protect the integrity of the grand jury investigation,” Merchan ruled.
The case is People v. Trump Organization, 01473-2021, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).
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