Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Paul Manafort charged by NY prosecutors with 16 further crimes

Alexandria Sheriff's Office  Handout via REUTERS Alexandria Sheriff’s Office Handout via REUTERS
Andrew Cummings | 14 March, 2019, 02:41

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, of the US District Court in Washington, can give Manafort up to 10 years - five for each of the two conspiracy counts he pleaded guilty to last year in a cooperation deal with prosecutors that later imploded after he was found to have lied.

"It's hard to overstate the number of lies, the amount of fraud involved. and there is no good explanation to warrant the leniency requested", she said.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse on 23 May 2018 in Washington, DC.

Vance's charges are at the state level, and allege that Manafort committed residential mortgage fraud, attempted residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsification of business records.

The sentencing hearing was a milestone in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation in the 2016 election campaign.

Shortly after his sentencing, a NY grand jury accused Manafort of 16 counts of mortgage fraud to obtain bank loans. The prosecutor said Manafort took steps to hide his foreign lobbying work, laundered millions of dollars to fund a lavish lifestyle and then, while on house arrest, coached other witnesses to lie on his behalf. "She said this case had not addressed the collusion question".

While many people believe Ellis' sentence was "absurdly low", Turley said he did not think Jackson would seek to rectify the matter, saying it was not "the providence of a second federal judge to correct an error by the first judge". That punishment is on top of a roughly four-year sentence he received last week in a separate case in Virginia. The sentence is not meant to be an "indictment" or an "endorsement" of ongoing Russian Federation investigations.

Manafort himself asked for mercy on more personal grounds, telling Jackson he is the sole caregiver to his 66-year-old wife.

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Manafort's attorneys nonetheless argued that he had shown contrition by admitting guilt and that he has been struggling against an unfair and incorrect portrayal of himself in the press.

Both cases stem from an inquiry into alleged Russian election meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.

One heckler called Downing a liar, repeatedly shouting "that's not what she said!" in reference to the judge.

Manafort is one of a half-dozen former Trump associates and senior aides charged by Mueller, although none of them have been accused so far of direct collusion with Moscow to get Trump elected to the White House.

Manafort's team said even though Manafort failed to register as a foreign agent, he did communicate with U.S. State Department officials in Kiev in 2013, suggesting that the government at least had some awareness of what he was doing.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted in Manhattan on Wednesday on mortgage fraud charges, the same day a federal judge increased his overall jail sentence to 7.5 years.

Unlike at his sentencing hearing last week, Manafort said he was sorry for his actions, but Jackson then told him his expression of remorse rang hollow.

The political environment since Manafort's indictment has been "very harsh", attorney Kevin Downing told the judge.

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