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18 Dec, 2019 17:33

Trump COULD pardon him now: Manafort mortgage fraud case tossed by New York judge over double jeopardy

Trump COULD pardon him now: Manafort mortgage fraud case tossed by New York judge over double jeopardy

A New York state mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort – already serving seven-and-a-half years on federal charges of fraud and undisclosed lobbying – has been thrown out under double jeopardy.

The 16-count indictment was tossed because the overlap with the federal case against Manafort “is extensive – if not total,” lawyer Todd Blanche wrote in his motion to have the case thrown out. State Supreme Court Judge Maxwell Wiley agreed on Wednesday after a hearing that lasted just a few minutes, noting that New York law prohibits prosecuting an individual multiple times for the same crime, or ‘double jeopardy.’

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Manafort was charged with mortgage fraud, falsifying business records, conspiracy, and a handful of other felonies mere minutes after he was sentenced in the second of two federal cases to a total of seven-and-a-half years in prison, with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr declaring “No one is beyond the law in New York.” Vance Jr was concerned that President Donald Trump would attempt to pardon his former campaign manager, and a state conviction is beyond the reach of a presidential pardon.

While Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of tax and bank fraud during his 2018 federal trial, no verdict was reached on 10 of the other charges. Prosecutors hoped to use that fact as a loophole to retry him on those charges in New York. They may still appeal the decision, Judge Wiley noted.

The former lobbyist’s sentencing in March was held up as a victory by Trump’s political opponents, even though the charges were unrelated to alleged Russian election interference and instead stemmed from Manafort’s work with the Ukrainian government. He was reportedly admitted to a Pennsylvania hospital with heart trouble earlier this week and was not in court to receive the news of the state case’s dismissal. Manafort’s former deputy, Rick Gates, received a lenient 45-day jail sentence on Tuesday after cooperating extensively in the case against his former boss.

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