A jury in New York found the Trump Organization guilty of criminal tax fraud, a major blow for the former president.
Although Donald Trump was not personally on trial, prosecutors insisted that he was fully aware of the 15 year scheme in which executives were enriched by off-the books perks to make up for lower salaries, reducing the company's tax liabilities.
The 12-person jury in New York State Court was sent to deliberate on Monday morning after a six-week trial in which Trump Organization lawyers blamed the greed of longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg for the fraud.
The former ally of Trump admitted earlier this year that he had a five-month prison sentence in exchange for a plea deal. Prosecutors laid out a case heavily reliant on Weisselberg's testimony.
The verdict is a serious blow to Trump and his family who rose to fame as property moguls in New York but whose business practices have long been secreted in secrecy due to rumors of ill-doing.
It is the latest in a series of legal problems surrounding Trump, including several investigations related to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election victory of Joe Biden and his removal of sensitive White House documents from his Florida resort of Mar-a-Lago.
The monthlong trial featured testimony from seven witnesses, including Weisselberg and senior vice-president and controller Jeffrey McConney. An outside accountant who spent years preparing tax returns for Trump and the company also testified.
The jury had zeroed in on the last count listed on the verdict sheet: falsifying business records.
Two jurors sent notes Tuesday asking for clarity on the falsifying business records charge and a reading of related testimony.
Weisselberg ordered accounts payable supervisor Deborah Tarasoff to delete Allen Weisselberg's notations from entries in Trump's personal general ledger, he testified that Trump personally paid private school tuition for Weisselberg's grandchildren.
The judge asked jurors to reread the charge and the elements they must find for a guilty verdict. They were asked to hear Tarasoff's testimony again.
Tarasoff, a Trump Organization veteran, testified that Weisselberg called her into his office and told her to go in and take my name off of it in September 2016.
After resuming the deliberations Tuesday, jurors asked the judge to reread three counts of falsifying business records relating to the creation of false W 2 tax forms for Weisselberg for 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The legal woes overshadowed Trump's announcement of a 2024 run to return to the White House.
Trump s campaign was launched with great fanfare from Mar-a-Lago, but it has not set the political world alight after high profile Trump-backed candidates were largely defeated in November's midterm elections.
The Republican party is beginning to see a number of rivals to Trump, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.