CNN – Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, was sentenced by a US district judge in Virginia on Thursday to 47 months in prison for bank and tax fraud uncovered during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
Manafort was convicted after prosecutors accused him of hiding from the US government millions of dollars he earned as a consultant for Ukraine’s former pro-Russia government. After the pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster, prosecutors said, Manafort lied to banks to secure loans and maintain an opulent lifestyle with luxurious homes, designer suits and even a $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket.
Mueller’s charges led to the stunning downfall of Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such international figures as the former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and Yanukovych.
Manafort faces sentencing in a separate case in Washington on 13 March on two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty last September. While he faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in the Washington case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson potentially could stack that on top of whatever prison time Ellis imposes in Virginia, rather than allowing the sentences to run concurrently.
Jackson ruled on 13 February that Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with Mueller’s office by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia investigation including his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence. Jackson’s ruling could have an impact on the severity of his sentence in both cases.
Mueller is preparing to submit to the US attorney general, William Barr, a report on his investigation into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the inquiry. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction and Russia has denied election interference.
Manafort is the only one of the 34 people and three companies charged by Mueller to have gone to trial. Several others including the former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen have pleaded guilty, while the longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty.
Gates, a key witness against Manafort, has yet to be sentenced due to his ongoing cooperation with prosecutors.
Defense lawyers had asked Ellis to sentence Manafort to between 4¼ and 5¼ years in prison.
“The special counsel’s attempt to vilify Mr Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this court,” his lawyers wrote in their sentencing memo.
Prosecutors had not suggested a specific sentence. Mueller’s office, in court filings, said that only Manafort is to blame for his crimes, that he has shown no remorse and that his lies to prosecutors after his guilty plea should be taken into account.
“The defendant blames everyone from the special counsel’s office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices,” prosecutors wrote.
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