Former President Donald J Trump was indicted for multiple charges of Bookkeeping fraud on Tuesday. The accusation brought forward by Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg included Trump falsifying business records in order to deceive state tax authorities. Legal experts had anticipated the charges to be related to campaign finance violations which would potentially raise significant legal challenges.
As the indictment suggested, Trump had paid his former lawyer and fixer Michael D. Cohen $130,000 just before the 2016 election under the guise of legal services performed. For each false record, Trump was charged with a felony under Article 175 of the New York Penal Law; a conviction of which carries a sentence of up to four years.
At a news conference, DA Bragg pointed to state and federal election law to support his case. He cited a New York state election law which misdemeanors conspiracy to promote a candidacy by unlawful means, yet failed to explain why this would apply specifically to a presidential election. He also mentioned the federal cap on campaign contributions. Moreover, Bragg brought up this accusation that Trump falsified business records in order to back up false claims to tax authorities. When it came to tributes for state government, the DA suggested Trump planned to lie to tax authorities so as to launder money; this actions is also against the law.
The legal community had raised concerns about the case against Trump purely relying on campaign finance laws. Richard L. Hasen of the University of California at Los Angeles and Benjamin L. Ginsburg of the Republican Party have both expressed doubt in achieving felony charges solely in this area. However, with prosecutors now citing the possibility of false statements made to tax authorities, they may now have the grounds to elevate these bookkeeping fraud charges to felonies.
In the courtroom, prosecutor Christopher Conroy accused Trump of causing the Trump Organization to create a series of false business records. He had even “mischaracterized for tax purposes the true nature of the payment”.
In order to move forward, the prosecutors will be required to show more details about potential violations of election laws and tax issues. To aid in the case, defense counsel will be allowed to see in discovery the nature of the violations that Bragg had mentioned. It is these details that will give insight into the whether the case has sound legal standing.
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The Alvin L. Bragg mentioned in this article is a is the Manhattan district attorney of New York. He and his team are charged with prosecuting this case against former President Donald J Trump and have so far laid out new accusations that bolster what many legal experts have referred to as a risky and novel case.