Manafort sentenced to nearly 4 years in bank fraud case

Paul Manafort. Photo: Twitter/Paul Manafort

March 7 (UPI) — A federal judge in Virginia sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to 47 months in prison Thursday for his conviction on eight counts in a bank fraud trial.

Manafort faced a sentence of up to 24 years in prison, but District Judge TS Ellis said he believed the prosecution’s recommended sentence would be “excessive.” The judge said that though Manafort led an “otherwise blameless life,” it doesn’t erase his crimes.

Manafort, 69, told the judge he felt humiliation throughout the case, though offered no apology for his crimes.

“I have felt punishment during these proceedings,” he said.

Manafort faces up to another 10 years in a separate federal case based out of Washington, D.C.

Last week, Manafort’s lawyers pleaded with the judge for leniency, saying the maximum prospective sentence was “clearly disproportionate” to his crimes as a first-time offender.

In August, a jury found him guilty of five counts of tax fraud, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud. Ellis declared a mistrial on another 10 counts.

The charges stemmed from an investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded. He’s also determining whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey, who at the time was looking into Russian meddling.

Prosecutors said Manafort hid millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service in overseas bank accounts. The indictment said Manafort and business associate Rick Gates lied to banks about their business income in order to get more than $20 million in loans. They then passed the money they received from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to conceal it from the IRS.

The Virginia-based case is one of two federal cases involving Manafort stemming from the Mueller investigation. The separate Washington, D.C-based indictment, filed in October 2017, charged Manafort with conspiracy, money laundering, tax fraud, failure to file reports of foreign financial assets, serving as an unregistered foreign agent, and giving false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Witness tampering charges were added in June 2018 and named Konstantin Kilimnik as an accomplice.

In September, he entered a plea agreement with the Mueller team, saying he would cooperate with prosecutors in the D.C. case, but District Judge Amy Berman Jackson found that he breached his plea agreement by intentionally lying about his contact with Kilimnik.

Berman Jackson is scheduled to sentence Manafort on Wednesday.


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