Ex-Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort sentenced to 47 months for fraud

The former campaign chief of Donald Trump was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and $24.8 million in restitution

Updated - March 09, 2019 01:28 am IST

Published - March 08, 2019 07:37 am IST - Washington

In this May 23, 2018, file photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington. Special counsel Robert Mueller is accusing Manafort of lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe in breach of his plea agreement.

In this May 23, 2018, file photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington. Special counsel Robert Mueller is accusing Manafort of lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe in breach of his plea agreement.

Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman of U.S. President Donald Trump, was on Thursday sentenced to 47 months in prison by the District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. Manafort was convicted on two counts of bank fraud, one count of failing to disclose a foreign bank account and five counts of tax fraud last August, in a case brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The sentence is significantly less than sentencing guidelines that recommend 19.5-24 years in jail — possibly the rest of the 69 year-old’s lifetime.

The defence had asked for a lower sentence owing to Manafort’s age and health and the fact that he is a first-time offender. Following these guidelines would have resulted in an “unduly harsh” sentence, Judge T.S. Ellis III said. The guidelines were “out of whack” in this case. The judge has also given Manafort credit for the nine months he has already spent in jail.

More jail time

The judge also ordered Manafort to pay a $50,000 fine and $24.8 million in restitution. However, there is possibly more jail time in store for Manafort, who is due for sentencing before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a federal court in Washington next week. He had pleaded guilty to money laundering, witness tampering (‘conspiracy to obstruct justice’) and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukraine (conspiracy against the U.S.’).

The sentence Judge Jackson will hand down could, depending on its length and whether or not it runs concurrently with the sentence from Judge Ellis, extend the 38 months that Manafort is currently slated to serve.

Manafort has been a focus of Mr. Mueller’s probe into whether the Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign conspired with the Russians. However, no charge against Manafort in either of the two cases relates to interference in the 2016 presidential elections. Judge Ellis stated at the outset of Thursday’s sentencing that Manafort was not being sentenced for any crimes related to Russia.

Manafort’s lawyers told the court in a memo that the Mueller probe had charged their client with crimes unrelated to the 2016 campaign after they could not establish that Manafort colluded with the Russian government in the 2016 elections. Judge Elliot had echoed these sentiments during the trial himself with prosecutors arguing that Manafort was under investigation before Mr. Mueller was appointed.

In the Virginia case, the Mueller probe had alleged that Manafort moved millions of dollars that he had earned from his work for Ukrainian politicians into the U.S. via shell companies and that he had not disclosed nor paid tax on the money. Once the money stopped coming in from Ukrainian politicians, Manafort had resorted to bank fraud to come up with the cash, as per Mr. Mueller’s team.

Manafort was indicted on eight charges out of a total of 18 brought against him in the Virginia case.

The Special Counsel’s office met with Manafort for some 50 hours but Mr. Mueller’s team said Manafort did not cooperate. “He did not provide valuable cooperation,” prosecutor Greg Andres said.

Manafort — known for his extravagant lifestyle and taste in clothes — was dressed, as per media reports, in a green jumpsuit that had ‘ALEXANDRIA INMATE’ written on the back. Seated in a wheelchair, as he suffers from gout and has trouble walking, Manafort asked for leniency.

 

Wrongful conduct

“To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement... I can say to you that I feel the punishment from this prosecution already, and know that it was my conduct that brought me here,” he said, but stopped short of apologising.

The judge called out Manafort for not showing remorse. “I was surprised that I did not hear you express regret for engaging in wrongful conduct… I hope you will reflect on that and your regret will be that you didn’t comply with the law,” the judge said.

 

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