New York prosecutors are probing Donald Trump’s Chief Financial Officer over potential tax evasion involving private school fees in a bid to get him to turn on the- ex-president, it is claimed.
Sources told the Wall Street Journal Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office has issued a subpoena against Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School over $500,000 fee payments made for Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg’s grandchildren.
Those payments were made via checks signed by both Donald Trump and Weisselberg, it is claimed. They are said to have been made as a form of financial assistance to Weisselberg’s son Barry and his ex-wife Jessica so their two children could attend the school.
Barry managed Trump’s ice rink in New York’s Central Park on a salary of $223,000 a year, until the city officials axed their contract with the ex-president this year.
He claims not to have been able to afford for his children to pay to attend Columbia Grammar & Prep, located on New York’s Upper West Side.
Vance’s investigation is said to center on whether the fee payments should have been flagged as gifts or loans, rather than as ‘financial assistance.’ If so, they should have incurred tax, meaning Weisselberg and Trump may have evaded their dues to the IRS with the payment arrangement.
The school has indicated it will comply with the prosecutor’s request. Weisselberg has not been charged with any crime, and Trump has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
Allen Weisselberg is pictured behind Donald Trump and Don Jr in 2017. Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance is reportedly trying to ‘flip’ Weisselberg into turning on his boss and friend
Those fee payments were made so that the children of Weisselberg’s son Barry could attend. Barry claims they were a form of ‘financial assistance’ to him and his ex-wife Jennifer.
Prosecutors could use any allegations of wrongdoing against Weisselberg to try and get him to turn on Trump, in exchange for leniency.
Weisselberg has worked at the Trump family firm for decades. He is thought to be one of Trump’s closest confidantes and was entrusted to run the company with Don Jr. and Eric while he was president. He also oversees the Trump family’s personal finances.
The DA’s office has reportedly spent months trying to ‘flip’ Weisselberg into turning on his boss amid the probe into Trump and the organization’s finances.
Jennifer Weisselberg, who was married to Barry from 2004 to 2018 and is the mother of the two children at the school, has already turned witness for state investigators.
New York prosecutors issued a subpoena against an elite private school attended by his CFO’s grandkids in a bid to get the longtime confidante to turn on the former president, according to a report. Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School above
Jennifer told the Journal more than $500,000 in tuition fees for her children was paid for with checks written either by Trump or Allen Weisselberg between 2012 and 2019.
An individual breakdown of the amounts paid for by Trump and Weisselberg has not been shared.
She said she told investigators she and her ex-husband had believed the tuition payments were part of his compensation package as an employee at the Trump Organization.
Barry was paid $223,000 a year to run the Trump-branded ice rink in New York’s Central Park until city officials severed ties with the former president last month.
Jennifer said neither she nor Barry ever paid their children’s tuition but that she had delivered checks for the payments to the school that were signed by Trump and Weisselberg.
In a 2018 deposition for their divorce, Barry said he could ‘not afford’ to pay for his children’s education and that his parents had instead paid the school fees.
He claimed he didn’t know if Trump had personally paid for any of his family’s expenses and said tuition fees paid by his father were ‘financial assistance’ rather than gifts or loans – which at that amount would have been taxable.
However a source said the payments were a gift.
Records seen by the Journal do not show who made the payments.
The subpoenas means prosecutors will be able to get access to the transactions and determine if it was indeed Trump or Weisselberg behind them.
Prosecutors could be trying to determine if Weisselberg or his son Barry committed tax evasion through the financial arrangement, the Journal reported.
Sources said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office subpoenaed the school over more than $500,000 in tuition fees allegedly paid by Trump and Allen Weisselberg (pictured)
Weisselberg is viewed as an important figure in the DA’s probe and sources told the Journal prosecutors have been trying to turn him for months.
As a key figure in the Trump Organization’s finances for decades, he could be offered leniency for his own part if he hands over crucial information, the Journal reported.
Weisselberg has not been accused of any crime or wrongdoing. His bank records have already been subpoenaed as part of the DA’s probe.
People close to the top exec told the Journal they believe he will remain loyal to Trump.
However Jennifer has previously said she thinks he could flip in order to protect his own children.
‘I think that he’ll turn on him,’ Jennifer told Chris Cuomo in March. ‘I think that his sons have too much liability.’
Columbia has several ties to Trump and his organization.
Jack, Allen and Barry Weisselberg. Weisselberg’s grandchildren (Barry’s children) attend the $50,000 a term school and prosecutors are thought to be looking into the tuition fee payments to determine if the Trump Organization broke tax laws
Trump’s former ‘fixer’ and personal lawyer Michael Cohen previously served as the chairman of Columbia Prep’s board.
Jennifer said he had helped put her children forward for admission to the elite school.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to multiple counts of tax evasion, unlawful campaign contributions and lying to Congress.
He has already been cooperating with Vance’s office for some time and has met with top DA officials at least eight times.
Cohen has previously claimed Weisselberg was involved in the scheme to provide hush payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels, who said she had an affair with Trump. Trump denies these claims.
Meanwhile, Barron Trump also attended the school when the Trump family lived in New York City before he entered the White House.
Weisselberg’s grandchildren by his other son – Jack – also used to attend the school.
Jennifer Weisselberg, who was married to Allen’s son Barry from 2004 to 2018 and is the mother of the two children at the school, has already turned witness for state investigators. She told Chris Cuomo in March (above) she believes he will ‘turn’ on Trump
Tax filings also show that the Trump Foundation, Trump’s now-defunct charity, made $150,000 in charitable donations to Columbia between 2014 and 2016.
The charity was dissolved after New York Attorney General Letitia James brought a lawsuit accusing it of misusing funds.
Jennifer was subpoenaed by the DA’s office last month to turn over financial documents obtained through her divorce from Barry.
The documents included bank and credit-card records, tax records and net-worth statements.
She has met with prosecutors several times.
Jennifer is also a cooperating witness in a separate investigation into Trump by the New York Attorney General’s office.
The latest subpoena comes as the probe into the former president’s potential criminal wrongdoing is ramping up.
Vance is standing down from his position as DA at the end of the year and so it is expected that the probe will be wrapped up by then.