Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg beefs up defense team ahead of criminal tax trial


(CNN)Former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg has added a new white-collar defense attorney to his legal team ahead of his criminal tax trial expected this fall.

Nicholas Gravante, an experienced trial attorney who represented another Trump Organization executive, Matthew Calarmari, in the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation, has joined Weisselberg’s defense.

“My mission now is to lead this trial team and win, and that’s what I intend to do,” Gravante told CNN.

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    Weisselberg continues to be represented by his long-time attorney Mary Mulligan as well as Tim Haggerty and Brian Skarlatos, a specialist in tax crimes. Rita Glavin, who had joined to represent Weisselberg in recent months is no longer part of the team, the person said.

      The shakeup comes months before Weisselberg is set to go to trial on tax fraud charges, although a firm trial date has not been set. The grand jury indictment alleged a 15-year tax evasion scheme in which Weisselberg received from the Trump Organization an array of luxury perks — including an Upper West Side apartment, a pair of Mercedes-Benz cars for him and his wife, and private school tuition for two family members — in lieu of compensation.

        The Trump Organization and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Former President Donald Trump has called the investigation a politically-motivated witch hunt.

        The Wall Street Journal first reported the addition of Gravante to the legal team.

            Gravante successfully navigated Calamari, the chief operating officer of the Trump Organization, away from facing state charges. The district attorney was investigating Calamari for off-books compensation that he received as a top executive, including a company-funded apartment and car, and whether he paid taxes on those benefits. In November, Gravante told CNN that the DA’s office had decided not to bring charges against Calamari at that time.

            Weisselberg was charged with helping orchestrate the alleged tax fraud scheme. Calamari, by contrast, is viewed more like the head of security — even though his title is COO — and often has the responsibility to report to buildings and properties at all hours.