Trump NY Fraud-Trial Judge Asks Whether Longtime CFO Lied on Stand

(Bloomberg) -- The judge expected to rule soon in New York state’s $370 million civil fraud trial against former President Donald Trump asked whether his longtime chief financial officer lied on the stand and how that should be weighed in the verdict.

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Justice Arthur Engoron in a Monday email asked lawyers for Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James what, if anything, they knew about a Feb. 1 New York Times report that former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was in talks to plead guilty to perjury over his testimony.

James’ suit alleges Trump inflated the value of his assets by billions of dollars a year to get better terms on loans from Deutsche Bank AG and other lenders. The Times said it was unclear what statements by Weisselberg could be the basis for a perjury charge but noted the former CFO’s testimony that he had not been involved in valuing the former president’s Trump Tower penthouse had been challenged by a Forbes magazine report.

Engoron, who frequently clashed with Trump and his lawyers during the 11-week non-jury trial, had said he would issue a verdict by Jan. 31, but a court representative subsequently revised the timeline to mid-February. The judge raised the possibility of further delay on Monday.

He said that he needed to know if he should consider whether Weisselberg committed perjury and asked the lawyers how they thought he should address the matter, including with regard to the timing of his decision. He gave them until Wednesday to respond.

“I do not want to ignore anything in a case of this magnitude,” Engoron said in the email, which was posted to the case docket on Tuesday.

Seth Rosenberg, a lawyer representing Weisselberg in criminal matters, didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment. Trump attorney Christopher Kise also didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. The attorney general’s office declined to comment.

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The attorney general accused Trump of claiming the penthouse was three times its actual size, inflating its value by hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I of course want to know whether Mr. Weisselberg is now changing his tune, and whether he is admitting he lied under oath in my courtroom at this trial,” Engoron said. “Although the Times article focuses on the size of the Trump Tower penthouse, his testimony on other topics could also be called into question.”

The judge said he was considering invoking the doctrine of “falsus in uno” — Latin for “false in one thing, false in everything” — to conclude that none of Weisselberg’s testimony is credible. The former CFO took the stand in October and described his role in the creation of Trump’s annual statements of financial condition, which are central to the case. Weisselberg denied any wrongdoing.

Engoron already ruled that Trump was liable for fraud before trial, but he must still decide six additional claims as well as penalties, including a possible lifetime ban on Trump participating in the New York real estate industry.

Weisselberg, who began work for Trump’s father, had served as CFO for the family business for decades before he was charged with tax fraud in July 2021 for accepting unreported perks like luxury housing and cars as salary. He subsequently stepped down from his role, pleaded guilty in 2022 and was sentenced to five months in jail. He also agreed to testify against the company, which was also convicted of tax fraud.

(Updates with additional detail from filing.)

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