Trump Organization indictments based on sworn testimony in 2018 divorce case
Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg and Donald Trump Jr. (AFP)

A family member helped prosecutors crack open the tax-fraud scheme at the heart of the Trump Organization indictments.

While investigators battled Donald Trump's lawyers in court in an effort to obtain the ex-president's tax records, his longtime accountant's former daughter in law held incriminating documents she was more than happy to turn over -- but prosecutors didn't learn of the evidence until last year, reported The Daily Beast.

"Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's longtime chief financial officer, has always been key to unlocking the finances of the Trump family business. For years, prosecutors have been looking for documents that would show what exiled insiders like Trump's ex-consigliere Michael Cohen have claimed: that the Trump Organization was fudging numbers and dodging taxes," the website reported. "What investigators didn't know was that the proof was in the hands of Jennifer Weisselberg, the woman once married to Barry Weisselberg, the son of Allen Weisselberg. And it wasn't until November 2020 that city and state investigators connected with her to acquire the evidence."

Weisslberg's son Barry explained his father's unaccounted corporate perks, including tuition payments for his grandchildren, during a sworn deposition during his 2018 divorce case, and New York prosecutors were astonished when Jennifer Weisselberg told them that Trump himself signed a check for those payments that she would hand deliver to the school.

"Investigators found that the CFO's son, a fellow Trump Organization employee in charge of its Wollman ice skating rink at Central Park, was keeping his official salary artificially low," The Daily Beast reported. "In his divorce case, Barry Weisselberg testified that he didn't even get a monetary raise in years, and according to investigators, he received the extra compensation in the form of fringe benefits."

The couple's joint 2010 tax return lists Barry Weisselberg's total income as $132,811, but they lived in a pricy Central Park apartment that should have been recorded as taxable income, but the Trump Organization "intentionally failed to do so."

"Barry Weisselberg was not charged in last week's indictment, but the investigation is ongoing and the government could still target him," The Daily Beast reported. "It's a looming threat that could be understood as a strategy: applying additional pressure on the CFO, so that he cooperates with law enforcement to spare his son from the probe."