Jeffrey McConney, Trump Trial Witness, Helped Arrange Cohen’s Reimbursement

Jeffrey S. McConney worked as the corporate controller at the Trump Organization and, prosecutors say, helped arrange the reimbursement for a $130,000 hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, who has long claimed to have had an affair with Donald J. Trump.

That reimbursement is at the center of the criminal case against Mr. Trump. Prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office have accused Mr. Trump of falsifying business records by mislabeling the reimbursements in 2017 to Michael D. Cohen, his former personal lawyer and fixer, as “legal expenses.” Mr. Cohen made the payment to Ms. Daniels in the last days of the 2016 campaign.

Mr. McConney, who took the witness stand on Monday, testified that he had a close relationship with his boss, Allen H. Weisselberg, then the company’s chief financial officer, who told him in 2017 that Mr. Cohen was owed money.

He said that Mr. Weisselberg instructed him to send the money to Essential Consultants, the company Mr. Cohen had set up for the $130,000 hush-money payment to Ms. Daniels. The checks that Mr. Cohen received throughout 2017 exceeded that amount because he was also paid a bonus and money to cover the taxes on the income.

Mr. McConney also spoke about Mr. Trump’s constant focus on the outflow of cash at the Trump Organization. Mr. McConney joined the company in 1987 and about a year later, Mr. Trump noticed that its cash balances had decreased from the week before. He called Mr. McConney and said, “Jeff, you’re fired.”

He was not actually fired, Mr. McConney said on Monday, but the incident served as a lesson about Mr. Trump’s attention to cash and bills.

Mr. McConney got involved the following February, according to a statement of facts filed by prosecutors that identified him only as the “TO Controller,” using the abbreviation for Mr. Trump’s company. That month, prosecutors say, Mr. Cohen emailed an invoice to Mr. McConney for $35,000 worth of legal expenses in January 2017 and the same for February 2017.

Prosecutors say that Mr. Weisselberg approved the payments, and then Mr. McConney asked another accounting division employee to issue them and to register them as “legal expenses.” The payments continued through 2017.

Mr. McConney testified for several days last November in a civil fraud case against Mr. Trump that was brought by the New York State attorney general’s office. Mr. McConney was also a defendant in the case.

After 35 years at the Trump Organization, he said on the stand that he could no longer handle working there amid its legal challenges.

“I just wanted to relax and stop being accused of misrepresenting assets for the company that I loved working for,” he said in November.

The judge who ruled in the civil fraud case, Arthur F. Engoron, barred Mr. McConney from serving as an officer or director of a New York company for three years and issued a lifetime ban on serving in a financial management role at a New York company.

Back to top button