WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced on Wednesday to about three and a half more years in prison by a judge who assailed him over his lies and criminal behaviour, then was hit with a new indictment in New York on a fresh set of charges outside the reach of a potential presidential pardon.
The sentence by US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, adding to one given by a different judge in Virginia last week, means Manafort will spend six years and nine months behind bars, after being credited for nine months already served in an important chapter of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 US election.
Jackson sentenced Manafort, a veteran Republican political operative who earned millions of dollars working for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine, to six years and one month for two conspiracy counts to which he pleaded guilty in September 2018 related to money laundering, unregistered lobbying and attempted witness tampering.
Jackson said two and a half years years of her sentence will run at the same time as the sentence in Virginia, where he was given 47 months in prison after being convicted by a jury of tax evasion and bank fraud in another case prosecuted by Mueller. Just minutes after Jackson read her sentence, the Manhattan district attorney unveiled a separate indictment of Manafort charging him with residential mortgage fraud and other New York state crimes.
The state-level charges are significant because they cannot be erased by a presidential pardon — a prospect Trump has not ruled out on Manafort’s federal charges.
The 16-count indictment accused Manafort and others of falsifying business records to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in mortgages. The allegations echoed some of the fraud charges in his Virginia trial.
Jackson ruled on Feb 13 that Manafort had breached his agreement in the Washington case to cooperate with Mueller’s office by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe.
Jackson’s sentence may mark the end of a two-year-old legal battle between Manafort and Mueller, who made exposing Manafort’s covert lobbying for pro-Kremlin politicians in Ukraine a centerpiece of his Russia probe.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019