Aug. 4 (UPI) — A former accountant for Paul Manafort testified Friday she helped falsify the former Trump campaign chairman’s tax returns during Day 4 of his bank fraud trial in Virginia.
Cindy LaPorta, the first witness with immunity to testify in the trial, said Manafort’s business associate, Rick Gates, asked her to treat $2.4 million that Manafort’s consulting firm received from offshore businesses as loans on his 2014 and 2015 tax returns. She also said she knew the returns weren’t accurate.
“I prepared the tax returns and communicated with banks based on information that Mr. Gates and Mr. Manafort provided to me that I didn’t believe,” LaPorta said.
“I very much regret it.”
Manafort is charged with bank fraud, conspiracy, preparing false tax returns and failing to disclose foreign income. The indictment says he and Gates moved money from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to conceal it from the Internal Revenue Service.
Gates pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on “all matters” they deem relevant. A judge said Gates faces between 57 and 71 months in prison for his offenses, though his sentence depends on the extent to which he cooperates with investigators.
LaPorta is one of five witnesses called by the prosecution — led by special counsel Robert Mueller — that Judge T.S. Ellis of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia granted immunity to last week. Mueller’s team said the witnesses refused to testify or would refuse to answer certain questions if not given the protection.
On Thursday, prosecutors argued Manafort attempted to avoid taxes and hide income by routing funds from overseas accounts directly to vendors in the United States, including $900,000 to a men’s clothing store over the course of five years.
On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted about Manafort’s trial and dismissed it as a political stunt in retaliation for his winning of the 2016 presidential election.
“Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement — although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?” Trump wrote.