Prosecutors leading New York criminal probe into Trump resign

NEW YORK, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Two prosecutors who had been leading the Manhattan district attorney's criminal probe into former U.S. President Donald Trump and his business practices have resigned, the district attorney's office said on Wednesday.

The departures of Special Counsel Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz came less than two months after District Attorney Alvin Bragg assumed office, taking over a probe into Trump and his family business, the Trump Organization.

"We are grateful for their service," said Danielle Filson, a spokeswoman for Bragg, referring to Dunne and Pomerantz. She added that the investigation was ongoing.

Bragg had indicated to the pair that he had doubts about pursuing a case against Trump, the New York Times said, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Dunne and Pomerantz could not immediately be reached for comment. Pomerantz had been brought in from an outside law firm to work on the probe.

Ron Fischetti, a lawyer for Trump, called the departures a sign that Bragg would not bring criminal charges against the former president, though nothing was official.

"In my mind the case is over," Fischetti said. "There's no question in my mind that they did it because there wasn't a case that they could prove, and there was no purpose in them staying there any longer."

Neither the Trump Organization nor its lawyer Alan Futerfas immediately responded to requests for comment.

The resignations come as New York Attorney General Letitia James ramps up her civil probe into Trump and his namesake company.

Last week, a state judge directed the former president and two of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump, to answer questions in that probe under oath in depositions.

The Trump family will appeal that ruling, Fischetti said.

James joined Bragg's criminal probe last May.

Trump, a Republican, has previously denied wrongdoing and said the state and city investigations were politically motivated.

James and Bragg are Democrats, as is Bragg's predecessor Cyrus Vance, who began the criminal probe and did not seek reelection.

In a statement referring to that probe, a James spokeswoman said: "The investigation is ongoing and there is a robust team in place that is working on it."

Both probes focus on whether Trump misrepresented the value of his real estate properties.

Investigators are looking into whether values were inflated to obtain bank loans and reduced to lower tax bills.

The criminal probe resulted last July in tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

In what Dunne called at the time a "sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme," Weisselberg allegedly received millions in "off the books" payments from the company that were not disclosed to tax authorities.

Weisselberg pleaded not guilty, as did the company. Both are seeking dismissals. Fischetti described the accusations against Weisselberg as "minimal charges."

A new grand jury was convened in September to examine how the Trump Organization valued its assets.

Fischetti said that grand jury's term would expire in April. read more

Donald Trump faces multiple criminal and civil probes, including in Georgia where a prosecutor won permission to convene a grand jury to look into the then-president's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results there. read more

Dunne, Vance's former general counsel, led the office's successful push to obtain Trump's tax returns.

Pomerantz, a former federal prosecutor, had been on leave from the law firm Paul Weiss while working on the Trump probe.

Trump is also among those being investigated by a U.S. House of Representatives select committee looking into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York; Additional reporting and writing by Luc Cohen Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell

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