Trump Org. was secretly held in contempt for hindering probe

Dec 13, 2022, 7:02 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2022, 9:05 am
FILE - Former President Donald Trump announces a third run for president as he speaks at Mar-a-Lago...

FILE - Former President Donald Trump announces a third run for president as he speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022. A prosecutor on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, said Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with top Trump Organization executives who schemed for years to dodge taxes on company-paid perks. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s company impeded a grand jury investigation last year by repeatedly failing to turn over evidence in a timely fashion, leading to a secret contempt finding and a $4,000 fine, according to court records made public Tuesday.

The Trump Organization was found to have been “willfully disobeying” four grand jury subpoenas and three court orders, to the detriment of Manhattan prosecutors who were left ill-prepared to question witnesses, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan ruled.

The subpoenas, issued in March, April, May and June 2021, preceded the Trump Organization’s July 2021 indictment on criminal tax fraud charges for helping executives avoid taxes on company-paid perks. The company was convicted this month and faces a fine of up to $1.6 million.

The $4,000 contempt fine was the maximum allowable by law.

It’s yet another kerfuffle involving Trump and allegations of mishandling or withholding records. In April, a judge held Trump in contempt and fined him $110,000 for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general. The former president has also been under investigation for storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Merchan vaguely referenced the Trump Organization’s contempt proceeding while presiding over the company’s criminal trial, saying he would wait until after it was over to unseal records related to an unspecified proceeding held last year.

That proceeding turned out to be the Trump Organization’s closed-door contempt trial on Oct. 7, 2021 and Merchan’s partially redacted 28-page ruling finding the company in contempt, which he issued on Dec. 8, 2021.

While the company’s name was blacked out in the court record released Tuesday, the details in the decision and the manner in which it was unsealed by the judge made it clear who was involved.

Manhattan prosecutors, frustrated with the company’s lack of compliance, had sought “coercive sanctions” of $60,000 per day, Merchan said.

Trump Organization lawyers argued that the company had been providing a steady stream of records, at one point totaling more than 3.5 million pages of records, but Merchan said that was “just enough to fend off” the prosecution’s request for penalties “while never fully meeting any of the deadlines.”

“When challenged (the company) provided one excuse after another,” Merchan wrote. “At times it claimed it was impossible to meet deadlines because the demands were too voluminous, overbroad or vague. On other occasions, it blamed delays and omissions on human error” or technical issues.

In the recently concluded criminal tax fraud trial, two corporate entities at the Trump Organization were convicted Dec. 6 of charges including charges of conspiracy and falsifying business records. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 13. The defense said it will appeal. Trump himself was not on trial.

The company’s former finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, previously pleaded guilty to charges that he manipulated the company’s books to illegally reduce his taxes on $1.7 million in fringe benefits such as a Manhattan apartment and luxury cars. He testified in exchange for a promised five-month jail sentence.

___

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
12 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
12 hours ago
Jason Jimenez and Jess Kurtz load the Belmont goats from SE Belmont and 11th for transport to SE Fo...
Associated Press

Famed Portland goats let loose in protest of homeless sweep

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A herd of city goats well-known in Portland, Oregon, were temporarily set free Tuesday morning in what appeared to be an act of protest against a planned sweep of a nearby homeless encampment. The fence of the goats’ enclosure in north Portland was cut, allowing them to get out. The Oregonian/OregonLive […]
1 day ago
FILE - This booking photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Texas death ro...
Associated Press

Man who fatally shot 3 Texas teens in 1998 faces execution

HOUSTON (AP) — An inmate convicted of killing three teenagers while they slept in a Texas Panhandle home more than 25 years ago faces execution Wednesday amid allegations that his trial was marred by racial bias. It had been unclear whether John Balentine’s execution, scheduled for Wednesday evening at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, […]
1 day ago
Alex Murdaugh sheds a tear as his the scene where his family was found dead during his double murde...
Associated Press

Paralegal angry by Alex Murdaugh theft, knew he loved family

Alex Murdaugh’s paralegal testified Wednesday at his double murder trial about the betrayal she felt when she discovered he lied and manipulated to steal millions of dollars from clients. But Annette Griswold also told jurors Murdaugh was a dedicated family man so distraught after his wife and son were killed he could no longer stay […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Norwegian minister apologizes over TikTok on her work phone

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway’s justice minister apologized Wednesday for having failed to admit, when quizzed in Parliament, that she had installed and used TikTok on her government-issued phone. The popular video-sharing app is Chinese owned, which has raised fears in the West that Beijing could use it to scoop up user data or push […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Trump Org. was secretly held in contempt for hindering probe