Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Paul Manafort gets 47 months in tax- and bank-fraud case

Ex-Trump campaign chairman gets 47 months in prison Paul Manafort to be sentenced in Va. court
Leonard Rios | 08 March, 2019, 03:23

Manafort is facing 19 to 24 years in prison under sentencing guidelines - essentially a life sentence for the 69-year-old Republican consultant who was found guilty in August of charges that include bank and tax fraud.

Manafort's trial past year documented his career as an worldwide lobbyist whose profligate spending habits were part of the evidence showing he'd cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of $6 million by hiding $16 million in income.

Manafort also still faces sentencing in the District of Columbia in a separate case related to illegal lobbying. "I concluded that it was legitimate" for the special counsel to charge Manafort with financial crimes, Ellis said.

After Manafort botched his cooperation agreement in the Washington case, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson may decide that Manafort should serve the sentences concurrently or consecutively - a decision that will come in Manafort's second hearing on March 13.

In a filing with the judge, they said Manafort is "truly remorseful" and is in poor health after spending the past nine months in prison. Federal prosecutors say Manafort "blames everyone" but himself for his crimes and shows no remorse for his actions.

"The real essence of his violation is that he stole from us, the people who pay their taxes", Ellis said of Manafort.

In arguing for a lighter sentence, Manafort's attorneys said he has been "devastated personally, professionally and financially".

Attorney Kevin Downing arrives at the Federal Court for the sentencing of his client, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Even after his trial and guilty plea, Manafort's legal team had an unusual arrangement with Trump's legal team that gave Trump's team insight into the questions Mueller's team was pursuing.

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US Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller is thought to be finishing up his 22-month investigation, which has dogged the Trump presidency.

Previously, Ellis agreed that prosecutors had brought a fair case against Manafort, but only after he lambasted the Mueller team for targeting Manafort as a way to "get" to President Donald Trump.

Manafort said he hoped to turn things around "through the power of prayer and God's guiding hand" before asking the judge for compassion.

Prosecutors stated that Manafort "poses a serious risk of recidivism", noting his "lies to the government and grand jury are aggravating factors and an additional basis for the denial of any reduction for the acceptance of responsibility".

"Mr. Manafort's physical, mental, and emotional health, together with his age and his nearly nine-month stay in solitary confinement, weigh in favor of a sentence in this case that does not include a lengthy period of incarceration", they argued. The crimes were unrelated to his time serving in the Trump campaign.

The verdict marked a dramatic fall for Manafort, a savvy political operative who advised US presidents as well as foreign leaders. But the longtime lobbyist was found guilty by a jury in federal court in Virginia of evading taxes and misleading banks, after which he admitted to related conduct in D.C. federal court.

In their sentencing memo, Manafort's lawyers argue for leniency.

Following the sentencing, Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, told reporters his client's conviction and sentencing had nothing to do with allegations of Russian collusion by the Trump campaign.

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