Manafort gets 4 years in prison for financial crimes unrelated to Russia

Manafort gets 4 years in prison for financial crimes unrelated to Russia
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison for fraud and other financial crimes entirely unrelated to Russia, in the only trial so far to emerge from Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ probe.

Manafort found himself in special counsel’s crosshairs as the manager of President Donald Trump’s campaign between March and August 2016, but the bank fraud, tax fraud and failure to declare a foreign bank account – the eight charges on which he was found guilty last August in a federal court in Virginia – have nothing to do with the 2016 presidential election, and everything to do with Manafort’s lobbying activities in Ukraine.

"He is not before the court for anything having to do with colluding with the Russian government,” Judge T.S. Ellis III told the courtroom on Thursday.

After lengthy consultations with both prosecutors and defense, Ellis said that Manafort “lived an otherwise blameless life,” so the sentence requested by prosecutors was “excessive.” His final verdict, which came around 7 pm local time, was 47 months – just short of four years – and a $50,000 fine. Manafort was also told to pay $24.8 million in restitution.

In a remark before the sentencing, Manafort thanked Ellis for giving him a fair trial.

Painting Manafort as a deliberate and hardened criminal, Mueller’s prosecutors demanded up to 24 years in prison for the 69-year-old lobbyist, as well as $24.8 million in restitution and another $24-plus million in fines.

The government says Manafort’s financial misconduct involved more than $55 million hidden in foreign bank accounts, $25 million in loans secured on the basis of false information, and $16 million in unreported income.

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In a sentencing memo submitted to Judge Ellis last month, Manafort’s lawyers argued their client is “truly remorseful” and accepts the jury’s verdict and his trial as fair, but that he is a first-time offender who suffers from a number of ailments.

“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,” the attorneys said.

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Mueller was appointed by the deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 – after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey – to investigate claims that Trump and his campaign “colluded” with Russia in 2016. He was given near-unlimited authority in a classified memorandum.

The case against Manafort is the only part of the ‘Russiagate’ probe Mueller’s prosecutors have brought to trial so far.

Manafort is also facing a sentencing hearing in a separate case in Washington, DC, also related to his lobbying in Ukraine – but not to ‘Russiagate’. He has pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy.

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