Criminal Justice

False-records case against Trump 'stands apart,' newspaper review finds

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Former President Donald Trump is seen arriving April 4 at the New York City Criminal Court to be arraigned on charges related to a hush-money payment to an adult film actress during his 2016 presidential campaign. Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA the Associated Press.

The felony business-records case against former President Donald Trump “stands apart” because the indictment does not include any separate charges, according to the New York Times, which reviewed about 30 such cases.

False records cases in New York are felonies if there is an intent to commit or cover up another crime. In all but two of the cases reviewed by the New York Times, indictments obtained by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of New York City and his predecessor included charges for the separate crimes.

In two other cases, for example, a lawyer and an insurance broker accused of stealing money were both charged with grand larceny in addition to falsifying business records.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up the payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The indictment alleges Trump mischaracterized the payments as legal fees as part of an alleged scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election and mischaracterize payments for tax purposes.

But Trump is not separately charged with an election or tax-law violation. At a news conference, Bragg said the indictment doesn’t specify a separate crime because the law doesn’t require it.

“The rarity of a stand-alone falsifying business records case stems partly from the low-level nature of the charge,” the Times explains. “Falsifying business records is an E-felony, the lowest level in New York, so the district attorney’s office often tacks it on in addition to other more serious crimes. And financial fraud investigations typically uncover evidence of multiple economic crimes, giving prosecutors a bevy of options.”

See also: “Meet Judge Juan Merchan, a Colombian immigrant who’s presiding in Trump’s arraignment; not guilty plea is entered” “What will the grand jury indictment mean for Trump?” “Meet Joseph Tacopina, the outspoken lawyer defending Trump in ‘political prosecution’” “Experts see these problems with felony-records case against Trump over hush-money payments” “Cadwalader partner reportedly resigns to lead Trump’s representation in Manhattan DA’s criminal case”

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