Even now that the (initial) criminal charges against Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have been laid out in full detail in the indictment documents, there’s still a good deal of debate about just how much criminal jeopardy is on the table. Some observers are insisting that Weisselberg will merely get a slap on the wrist for these charges.
Then there’s actual legal precedent. For instance former New York prosecutor Daniel Alonso has dug into the details and calculated that Weisselberg is looking at a prison sentence of up to five to fifteen years. David Frum of the Atlantic has dug into past criminal cases and found someone with crimes similar to Weisselberg’s who just last month was sentenced to 57 months in prison, which is a little shy of five years.
Allen Weisselberg turns 74 next months. If he ends up with a five year sentence, even if he gets a little time off for good behavior, he won’t get out until he’s close to 80. Given how prison ages a person, he may not get out at all.
Throw in how aggressively New York prosecutors are pressuring Weisselberg to flip, they’re pretty clearly going to pursue a harsh sentence if he’s convicted. It’ll ultimately be up to the judge. But there’s no scenario where prosecutors will recommend anything less than a harsh sentence to begin with.
Weisselberg has to be figuring this out right now. If he stands his ground and goes to trial, his life is likely over. And by the time he’s tried and convicted, the criminal case against Donald Trump will have moved on without his help, meaning he won’t be able to get the kind of leniency or immunity he’s currently being offered. Prosecutors also appear to be targeting one or both of his sons. Is he willing to send them to prison for a few years to protect Donald Trump?
These are questions that only Allen Weisselberg can answer. As the reality of his situation continues to get darker in the coming days and weeks, the odds of him flipping – whatever they are right now – can only go up. If he thinks he’s just looking at a slap on the wrist… well, he’ll soon figure out that’s not the case.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report