An Upper West Side mother called for jury duty at the Trump Organization trial – whose children went to prep school with Allen Weisselberg’s grandchildren – always wondered how the family ensured his life of luxury.
The 54-year-old attorney, who declined to be named, was among the first New Yorkers removed from jury duty in the high-profile trial that began Monday at Manhattan Supreme Court.
At the heart of the Manhattan district attorney’s case are untaxed luxury “work” expenses that had nothing to do with the real estate business whose accounts Weisselberg oversaw for decades. This includes tuition for his grandchildren at a private school at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School and a free apartment overlooking Central Park for his son Barry’s young family. The longtime chief financial officer pleaded guilty to 15 crimes last month.
The so-called juror said the prosecutor wasn’t the only one suspicious of the Weisselbergs’ family budget.
“It was always weird – how do they afford to live in this building? Living in a lavish building, having lavish birthday parties at Trump’s ice rink. You were like, what’s going on? Even at the time,” the dismissed juror said. “I had no idea.”
In a private meeting behind the walls of the courtroom, the prospective juror told Judge Juan Merchan and attorneys for the Trump companies that her daughter went to school with the Weisselberg children.
She said Barron Trump, Trump’s youngest child, had a class ahead of his daughter at Tony Manhattan School, which teaches children from kindergarten through age 12. She knew former Trump fixer Michael Cohen from the school board.
“I think [Cohen] was waving at friends and family, and people donating and whatever,” the juror joked, noting that she never saw The Donald pick up her son from school.
“My husband would say he saw Melania a lot and she was very beautiful.”
Grandfather Weisselberg paid at least $49,000 a year for each of his grandchildren to attend school. He also paid their annual sleep camp fee of $25,000 and Hebrew school tuition of $2,200, the Daily News reported.
His son, Barry, ran the Trump Organization’s Wollman Rink for 18 years. New York City terminated his contract with the Central Park ticket rink and the vintage carousel after the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol.
Barry Weisselberg’s ex-wife, Jennifer Weisselberg, previously told The News that she and Barry rarely put their hands in their pockets, with his stepfather paying for almost everything. She said Trump told her the corporate apartment they were living in was a wedding gift.
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In deposition testimony from her 2018 divorce, which The News reported months before his father’s indictment, Barry said there was never any talk of returning the money. Weisselberg’s youngest son described the largesse as “financial help”.
Weisselberg’s plea deal requires him to testify at trial about a conspiracy with Trump Org executives in a long-running tax evasion scheme. If his testimony satisfies prosecutors, they will accept a five-month prison sentence at Rikers Island.
The juror said she raised her hand to disclose the conflict as soon as she heard Weisselberg’s name. The judge and lawyers questioned her without the presence of 131 other prospective jurors, who showed up in court around 11 a.m.
Another person near her didn’t know anyone involved in the case, but he didn’t think he could be fair.
“An older man next to me said, ‘Is it enough if I hate Trump? “, She said. “They let him out.”
Merchan estimates it will take at least two weeks to find 12 impartial New Yorkers to serve on the Trump Org jury. He expects the trial to last five or six weeks.
Both Trump entities have pleaded not guilty and face significant financial penalties if found guilty.