The Trump Organization's chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg has been indicted and charged with tax-related crimes.
Weisselberg, 73, who began working for Donald Trump's father Fred in 1973, will appear in court on Thursday.
His charges related to the failure to pay taxes on benefits obtained as part of his work for Donald Trump.
It's not clear exactly what charges Weisselberg is facing, though experts suggest it could be grand larceny, scheme to defraud or tax fraud.
If Weisselberg is charged with tax fraud and failing to pay more than $10,000 in taxes for a single year, he could face up to seven years in prison.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The issue took on a renewed sense of urgency when Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, said in April that he will retire at the end of 2021.
It marks the first criminal charges brought against the former president's company since the Manhattan district attorney's office began its investigation three years ago, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The development will come as a deep blow to Trump, whose lawyers met with prosecutors on Monday in a last effort to deflect charges.
However, the Manhattan district attorney's office has apparently failed to 'flip' Weisselberg, who was spotted driving from his home to Trump Tower on Tuesday, just as he has done for decades, indicating he remains employed by the Trump Organization and loyal to his boss.
In a statement on Monday, Trump said his company's actions were 'in no way a crime' and insisted he was the victim of a witch hunt.
The fast-paced developments came as it emerged prosecutors are examining cash bonuses paid out by the Trump Organization as they probe whether employee benefits were properly declared for tax purposes.
Lawyers for Trump and Weisselberg did not respond to requests for comment.
The case involves unpaid taxes on benefits given to Weisselberg, including a company car and corporate apartment, according to a source quoted by Bloomberg News.
Longtime Trump Organization exec Allen Weisselberg drove to Trump Tower on Tuesday morning. He was charged with tax-related crimes on WednesdayInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Former President Donald Trump leaves his New York Trump Tower building Tuesday afternoon - the day before his chief financial officer was charged
Allen Weisselberg's wife Hillary leaves their New York home and walks to a nearby market. She made no comment when asked about how she feels that her husband is likely to be indicted.
Charges against the Trump Organization and one of its most senior executives are expected on Thursday.
The Manhattan district attorney has spent months investigating whether chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg avoided paying taxes on company perks.
Some of the details are believed to have emerged from documents saved by his daughter-in-law Jennifer Weisselberg after an acrimonious divorce from his son Barry.
The perks reportedly include:Some $500,000 paid to Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School for two of Weisselberg's grandchildren An apartment in an Upper East Side townhouse, used by Weisselberg's son and daughter-in-law during their divorce A rent-free apartment in the Trump property at 100 Central Park South, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, where they lived before that Prosecutors are also scrutinizing whether taxes were properly paid on cars leased through the Trump Organization Other members have staff have said they were given tickets to the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadow each year
It earlier emerged that perks included up to $500,000 in school fees paid for Weisselberg's two grandchildren to attend Columbia Grammar and Prep School in Manhattan.
There were no indications Trump himself was going to be charged, and Trump's lawyer has said no charges will be brought against the former president, who oversees the real estate and branding empire that he took over from his father.
At the same time, CNN reported that investigators had begun looking at cash bonuses paid to staff as part of their probe into benefits, believed to include rent-free apartments and school tuition.
Just how essential Weisselberg would be to prosecutors is a matter of debate – with high-stakes relevancy Trump.
On Tuesday, top House Democratic impeachment lawyer Daniel Goldman tweeted that Weisselberg's cooperation is vital to whether prosecutors are able to go after Trump himself.
'As I've been saying for a while, if Allen Weisselberg does not cooperate with the Manhattan DA's office — and all indications are that he has not and will not — that office will not be able to criminally charge Donald Trump for any of the conduct under investigation,' Goldman wrote.
That drew a retort from longtime Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who has met numerous times with prosecutors in New York amid the probe.
'Wrong! They have documents to prove more than you know or should be commenting on. Weisselberg is not the key to a Trump indictment,' Cohen responded.
Another former federal prosecutor in New York, Daniel Alonson, later tweeted his own view that that potential charges being publicly discussed might not be enough to ensure Weisselberg's cooperation.
Cohen also reacted Wednesday to the news of a looming potential indictment, calling it a 'Bad day for Trump Organization' but a 'good day for The United States of America!'
'Evading taxes on fringe benefits is important to prosecute - but by itself isn’t the type of earth-shaking charge that typically leads defendants to cooperate,' he wrote.'
Trump's former spokesman Jason Miller took to Twitter to ridicule the way the investigation had fallen far short of its intended target.
'This is politically terrible for the Democrats,' he wrote.
'They told their crazies and their supplicants in the mainstream media this was about President Trump. Instead, their Witch Hunt is persecuting an innocent 80 year-old man for maybe taking free parking!'
Trump's former spokesman Jason Miller ridiculed the case, saying Democrats had fallen far short of their intended target
Trump's lawyers have shrugged off the threat, saying it would be highly unusual for the district attorney to target a company over employee compensation or fringe benefits.
They met with prosecutors on Monday in a final push to persuade prosecutors not to bring charges.
But reports suggest prosecutors have spent months building a case against Weisselberg, a senior executive, in the hope that he might flip, and offer evidence against his boss.
Photographs on Tuesday captured a man in a suit carrying a cardboard banker's box with '45 Office' written on the outside. That is the same phrase the former president attaches to his post-presidential statements from his taxpayer-funded post-presidential office. Perched atop the case was a tan briefcase with a combo lock.
Longtime aide Dan Scavino was also pictured leaving Trump Tower
Trump's lawyer Ronald Fischetti said he thinks after speaking to prosecutors that no charges will be brought against the former president
Weisselberg (c) helped run the Trump Organization along with Donald Trump Jr. (r) and Eric Trump when Donald Trump took the White House
Trump himself was spotted exiting his Fifth Avenue building in the afternoon, departing after longtime aide Dan Scavino, who helps organize Trump's social media strategy and served as his golf caddie decades ago.
Trump's attorney Ronald Fischetti says he doesn't expect charges to be brought against the former president after meeting New York prosecutors on Monday.
Weisselberg helped run the company when Donald Trump took the White House.
He has been identified as one of the principal figures with legal exposure after prosecutors combed through company finances and picked through unusual pay and benefit packages including up to $500,000 in prep school tuition for his grandchildren.
His former daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, told CNN Monday night she is willing to testify to a federal grand jury meeting in Manhattan.
'We're prepared, and we are getting prepared,' she said.
She was previously married to Weisselberg's son, Barry. She did not say whether prosecutors had requested her to testify, although she has handed over voluminous documents.
DRIVER'S SEAT: His lawyers reportedly told prosecutors he would not cooperate in the investigation
After picking someone up, Weisselberg drove into a garage at Trump Tower
During the meeting, senior officials with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the New York State Attorney General's Office met with Trump defense lawyers who highlighted the damage the company could face, should an indictment occur.
The two prosecutors' offices - now working together in their probe against Trump - did not indicate whether they'd decided to press charges.
But the collateral damage from any indictments could spread far and wide, affecting relationships with banks and other business partners, Trump Organization lawyers are purported to have said.
Meetings to discuss 'collateral consequences' are routine in white-collar investigations when charges are near, according to the New York Times.
The meeting, conducted through video conferencing, lasted for less than an hour.
In a lengthy and rambling statement issued on Monday, Trump called the DA's investigation 'a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time' and claimed prosecutors 'failed' to find a crime despite 'millions of dollars of taxpayer funds wasted.'
Trump railed against the prosecution in his response.
'They will do anything to stop the MAGA movement (and me),' the former president said.
'They also know that no matter how strong our case, they will work hard to embarrass us and the Republican Party.'
He claimed the prosecution of his business organization meant other companies would see it as a reason not to station their businesses in New York.
'Having politically motivated prosecutors, people who actually got elected because they will "get Donald Trump," is a very dangerous thing for our Country. In the end, people will not stand for it. Remember, if they can do