NY prosecutors 'aggressively' pursuing Trump tax-fraud probe as Weisselberg returns to court: report
New York prosecutors appear to be "aggressively" pursuing their tax fraud-related investigation of the Trump Organization, which led to criminal charges being filed against the former president's company and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, in July.
The Trump Organization's lawyers and Weisselberg are set to appear in court Monday for the first time since they were arraigned three months ago, on charges that they participated in a 15-year scheme to defraud taxpayers by paying company executives with untaxed benefits.
NPR reported Monday that there are "plenty of signs" that New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. are "aggessively working the case, including an unannounced court appearance in August by attorneys for both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization."
"The fact that they are having sealed proceedings is consistent with an ongoing grand jury investigation and suggests the district attorney may be considering further charges or defendants," said Adam Kaufmann, a former investigations division chief at the Manhattan district attorney's office.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the New York investigation has recently focused on Matthew Calamari, Trump's one-time bodyguard who later became the Trump Organization's chief operating officer.
"Mr. Calamari and his son, Matthew Calamari Jr., have lived in Trump Organization apartments, and the elder Mr. Calamari has driven a company car. Earlier this month, the younger Mr. Calamari testified before a grand jury that continues to investigate Mr. Trump's business affairs, according to people familiar with the matter," the newspaper reported, adding that Jeff McConney, a senior finance executive who prepared the elder Calamari's tax returns, also recently testified to the grand jury.
One major question hanging over the investigation is whether Weisselberg will turn on the company and his former boss, reaching a deal with prosecutors to testify against them. Bloomberg News reported Friday that it's unlikely Weisselberg will "flip" because he's not facing a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.
"Allen Weisselberg has made the calculation that he can escape, or if he gets a jail sentence, he can get through it," said New York defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor Adam Frisch, who is not involved in the case.
Her medical license, first issued in 1984, was set to expire Oct. 1. The State Medical Board of Ohio, which credentials physicians, renewed her license Thursday for another two years.
Tenpenny drew nationwide media attention when, under an invitation from a Republican state lawmaker, she spoke to the Ohio House Health Committee and warned them that COVID-19 vaccines magnetize their recipients and “interface" with 5G towers. A federal judge has deemed her a non-expert in a vaccine injury lawsuit. She is among the 12 most prolific disseminators of COVID-19 misinformation on social media, according to research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
An anti-vaccine activist since the 2000s, Tenpenny has called vaccines a “method of mass destruction" and “depopulation;" charges $623 for her “boot camp" to train people how to convince others to refrain from vaccination; and sells her book, “Saying No To Vaccines" for $578 on Amazon.
State law allows the board, with the votes of at least six of its 12 members, to refuse renewal of any physician for “making a false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading statement" in relation to the practice of medicine.
This includes misrepresentation of facts that are likely to mislead, or “includes representations or implications that in reasonable probability will cause an ordinarily prudent person to misunderstand or be deceived."
Licenses expire on a two-year basis.
Jerica Stewart, a spokeswoman for the medical board, confirmed Tenpenny's license was renewed. She said to keep up with the 92,000 practitioners, the board automatically renews applications. Certain affirmative answers can trigger an automatic rejection of an application, or the board can investigate a complaint or independently launch its own probe. She offered no comment on Tenpenny directly.
“A recent renewal does not prevent the board from taking future disciplinary action," she said.
Before the board acted Thursday, the Ohio Capital Journal contacted the state medical board and several physician's associations to ask whether they believe Tenpenny should be recertified as a physician.
Two physician's associations, when contacted, avoided comment on whether they believed Tenpenny should remain as their peer and colleague.
Todd Baker, executive director of the Ohio State Medical Association, declined specific questions about Tenpenny and referred inquiries to the state medical board.
He pointed to a recent OSMA statement in support of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for health care workers. However, he refused to comment on Tenpenny.
“The investigative process to assess complaints regarding a licensee is also defined in law and rule and the Board is required to follow that process," he said. “If other physicians or members of the public contact the OSMA with a complaint about a physician for any particular reason, we refer those inquiries to the medical board."
Matt Harney, executive director of the Ohio Osteopathic Association, said the state medical board has the “authority to investigate possible fraud, misrepresentation, or deception" but declined to answer when asked if he believed Tenpenny perpetuated any such conduct.
He did, however, cite a statement the OOA's president, Dr. Henry Wehrum, issued after Tenpenny made national headlines with her magnetic vaccines testimony.
“Misinformation is a serious threat to personal and public health and it must be rejected," he said at the time. “This includes the false and completely unfounded claims made by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny during the Ohio House of Representatives Health Committee on June 8. The OOA disavows her testimony. She is not affiliated with the OOA, has never been a member, and does not represent the views of the OOA."
State medical boards typically maintain a certain degree of secrecy. Stewart, the board spokeswoman, said any complaints it receives about physicians are confidential unless they result in discipline.
She made the comment before Tenpenny's license was renewed.
“The Medical Board takes its responsibility of protecting the health and safety of the public very seriously," she said.
Ivermectin prescriber's license expires Oct. 1
Similarly, Dayton physician Dr. Fred Wagshul's license is also set to expire Oct. 1. He has not yet applied for renewal.
Wagshul is among the founding physicians of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Association, which has championed ivermectin as a preventative and cure for the disease.
Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic in humans and a dewormer in livestock. Its use against COVID-19 comes over the objection and public warnings of Merck, the drug's manufacturer, along with the CDC, FDA, WHO, American Medical Association and others, who warn of the lack of evidence pointing to any medical benefit and the side effects the drug can induce.
In a previous interview, Wagshul called the health warnings “censorship" and compared the blacklisting of the drug to “genocide" from the U.S. government.
In court, he recently testified to prescribing ivermectin to a 51-year-old man without talking to his treating physicians at a Cincinnati hospital or reviewing any clinical information. Hospital staff, which successfully fought off a lawsuit seeking to force them to administer ivermectin against their will, testified that this is a major break from standards of care from a doctor who is not board certified and thus would never be admitted to practice medicine at their hospital.
Wagshul did not respond to a request for comment.
Other physicians who have promoted misinformation have avoided professional censure from medical boards. An NPR review of medical licenses for 16 doctors who have proven track records of doing so online and in media interviews found 15 of them maintained active licenses in good standing. One appeared to have let his license expire, but there was no suggestion in his record that it was because of any disciplinary action.
Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: email@example.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.
Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee investigated Trump's election fraud claims -- and found they 'added up to nothing': New book
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mike Lee (R-UT) personally examined Donald Trump's claims of election fraud but found the evidence lacking.
A new book from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa reveals the two senators, both of whom ultimately voted to certify Joe Biden's election win, gave serious consideration to the fraud claims and even called state officials to discuss the results, but Graham privately dismissed Trump's arguments as more suitable for "third grade."
Graham agreed to meet Jan. 2 with Rudy Giuliani and his legal team to hear a theory that Biden's support in some states was mathematically suspect, but the South Carolina Republican wanted more specific evidence.
"Give me some names," Graham said. "You need to put it in writing. You need to show me the evidence."
Giuliani offered additional memos Jan. 4 claiming that Pennsylvania had processed 682,777 mail-in ballots without proper observation -- which a federal judge had already rejected two months earlier -- and showing hundreds of dead people had voted in Georgia, but Graham's top lawyer on the Judiciary Committee, Lee Holmes, was not impressed by the evidence.
Holmes determined that Giuliani's evidence most likely showed some voters had cast ballots and then died, and he was unconvinced by evidence suggesting some people had voted twice or cast fraudulent ballots.
Some records contradicted Giuliani's conclusions, and Holmes found the whole presentation lacking.
"Holmes found the sloppiness, the overbearing tone of certainty, and the inconsistencies disqualifying," the authors wrote, and the attorney found that Giuliani's claims "added up to nothing."
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