Feb. 20 (UPI) — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Republican strategist and former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone to 40 months in prison, after he was convicted on seven criminal counts last fall stemming from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson also gave Stone two years of probation and ordered him to pay $20,000 in fines. The sentence will not begin, however, until Jackson rules on a defense motion for a new trial.
The Trump ally was convicted in November of charges that included lying to Congress, witness tampering and interfering in the House’s Russia investigation, which searched for any links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
“The truth still exists, the truth still matters. Roger stone insisted that it doesn’t,” Jackson said at Thursday’s hearing.
Stone’s sentence was significantly lighter than the seven to nine years prosecutors originally recommended last week. They were ultimately overruled by U.S. Attorney General William Barr after President Donald Trump slammed the recommendation as excessive. After Barr stepped in, four of the prosecutors in the case quit, two of whom resigned entirely from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C.
Stone’s defense team filed the motion last week for a new trial after the jury’s foreperson stated publicly she supported the four prosecutors who quit the case, a remark the attorneys said amounted to juror misconduct.
Trump called the foreperson “totally tainted” in remarks before he gave a speech at a Hope for Prisoners graduation ceremony in Las Vegas. He also expressed his support for Stone.
“I’m following this very closely and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion,” the president said. “He’s a smart guy, he’s a little different … . But he’s a good person. His family is fantastic.”
Jackson said previously she would deliver Thursday’s sentence even though Stone’s defense is seeking a retrial. The judge told attorneys and prosecutors in the case Tuesday that Stone will have time to make challenges after he was sentenced, meaning he won’t be immediately imprisoned.
Should Jackson ultimately grant a new trial, Thursday’s sentence would be voided.
The charges against Stone stem from the two-year Justice Department investigation of Russian electoral interference, which also convicted five other Trump aides or advisers.