Trump Org. trial begins as prosecutors outline alleged fraud and defense blames CFO Allen Weisselberg
This image made during the trial of former CFO Allen Weisselberg on Wednesday, June 30, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Weisselberg is accused in lawsuits of running a massive Ponzi scheme. Weisselberg has denied wrongdoing and argues he did nothing wrong. Weisselberg made an initial appearance in a Tampa, Fla., courtroom and is free on $500,000 bond. But he’s not on the witness list and is the first to enter a courtroom. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In the courtroom Wednesday, prosecutors alleged a fraud committed that would have been impossible without Weisselberg. Weisselberg sat on the witness stand wearing a white shirt and glasses.
Defense attorney Joe Spalding focused on a long stretch of stock-market gains between 2010 and 2013, when Weisselberg was chief financial officer of the company, called Fidelity Investments. He also argued Weisselberg didn’t do anything wrong, pointing to other corporate executives in the financial sector who did wrong. He said he had a good relationship with Weisselberg.
“He is a person of good character, he is a person of integrity. I would never use the word perfect in regard to him,” Spalding said. “He’s an honest broker, he is a person who, when he was here he would speak in good faith to me as well as he would speak to you.”
Prosecutors, the first to weigh in on the case, focused mostly on Weisselberg’s actions, which they say involved a conspiracy to defraud investors. They said Weisselberg used $10 million in corporate funds to buy a stake in a company called Foresight Energy Partners LLC, even though the company never produced any profits. In total, prosecutors said Weisselberg bought shares in Foresight for $8 million. Weisselberg, who turned 57 in 2015, would later tell investors that the company would “start making money” if the company could drill under Florida’s water table.
This is the first time prosecutors have used a financial fraud statute in a Florida courtroom against an executive. Before this hearing, a judge had dismissed