Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Ex-Trump campaign boss Manafort sentenced to 47 months

Paul Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in a Virginia case. Here he's seen in April 2018 outside the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse in Washington D.C Paul Manafort to be sentenced in Va. court
Andrew Cummings | 08 March, 2019, 02:41

Paul Manafort, President Trump's onetime campaign chairman, was sentenced to 47 months in prison on Thursday.

Judge Ellis also noted during the hearing that Manafort "is not before the court for any allegations that he, or anyone at his direction, colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election".

After Manafort botched his cooperation agreement in the Washington case, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson may decide that Manafort should serve the sentences concurrently or consecutively - a decision that will come in Manafort's second hearing on March 13. They also said Manafort is "truly remorseful" for his conduct - illegal lobbying on behalf of pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine, hiding the millions of dollars he made in overseas bank accounts, falsifying business records and lying to banks to keep the cash flowing then urging witnesses to lie on his behalf when he was caught - and that he has accepted responsibility for his actions. He also said Manafort has lived an "otherwise blameless life" - a freaky claim about a man who has worked to boost the autocratic rulers overseas. "My life is professionally and financially in shambles". "Thank you for a fair trial", Manafort told the judge.

The Virginia case was the first trial of charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether there was coordination or collusion by the Trump campaign.

The crimes were unrelated to his time serving in the Trump campaign.

In their response released Tuesday, prosecutors tried to explain to the court why Manafort should not receive a sentence less than commensurate with his crimes, reiterating his criminal conduct and arguing he should receive no credit for pleading guilty in Washington, D.C.

Manafort was accused of hiding tens of millions of dollars from the United States tax authorities which were paid as consulting fees for the work he did over the years for Russian-backed Ukrainian politicians.

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Manafort said the "media frenzy" surrounding the case had taken a toll on him, but that he hopes "to turn the notoriety into a positive and show who I really am". Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant, was found guilty last August by a jury of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

"I faced that issue at the beginning of the case", Ellis said.

Defense lawyers have asked Ellis to sentence Manafort to between 4-1/4 and 5-1/4 years in prison.

But prosecutor Greg Andres argued that those details weren't relevant in the Virginia matter because Manafort chose to fight the Virginia case and because a federal judge in D.C. found that Manafort lied after he had agreed to cooperate with the government.

The trial highlighted that Manafort pushed unsuccessfully for an executive at one of those banks get position in President Trump's Cabinet.

"The defendant blames everyone from the Special Counsel's Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices", prosecutors said.

Defence lawyers have also cited the fact that Manafort has forfeited millions of dollars in cash and property as a result of his convictions, and has also suffered public shame as a result of his high-profile prosecution.

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