Former USA President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday 4th April pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office accused Mr. Trump of orchestrating a broader scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election by purchasing damaging stories about him to keep them under wraps.
The charges trace back to a $130,000 hush-money payment that Mr. Trump’s fixer, Michael D. Cohen, made to the porn star, Stormy Daniels, in the final days of the 2016 campaign.
While serving as the commander in chief, Mr. Trump reimbursed Mr. Cohen, and that’s where the fraud kicked in, prosecutors say.
In internal records, Mr. Trump’s company classified the repayment to Mr. Cohen as legal expenses, citing a retainer agreement. Yet there were no such expenses, the prosecutors say, and the retainer agreement was fictional as well.
Those records underpin the 34 counts of falsifying business records: 11 counts involve the checks, 11 center on monthly invoices Mr. Cohen submitted to the company, and 12 involve entries in the general ledger for Mr. Trump’s trust.
Falsifying business records can be charged as a misdemeanor offense.To elevate it to a felony, the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg must prove that Mr. Trump’s “intent to defraud” was in service of a second crime.
The charges against Mr. Trump are all Class E felonies, the lowest category of felony offense in New York and carry a maximum prison sentence of four years per count. If he were convicted, a judge could sentence him to probation.
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