Ex-Trump campaign boss Manafort to be sentenced in tax fraud

Clay Curtis
March 8, 2019

Paul Manafort will be sentenced for financial crimes on Thursday, even as key details about his place in the special counsel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 USA election will remain a mystery.

Judge T.S. Ellis handed down the sentence Thursday afternoon in a Federal court in Alexandria, VA.

Manafort, his black hair gone gray, appeared in court in a green prison jumpsuit and remained seated in a wheelchair. In the District case, prosecutors said Manafort failed to live up to the terms of his plea bargain by providing false information to investigators in interviews. Manafort, who opted not to testify during his trial, told the court that "to say I have been humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement".

In a filing with the judge, they said the Republican political powerbroker is "truly remorseful" and is in poor health after spending the past nine months in prison.

Manafort still faces sentencing in the District of Columbia, where he pleaded guilty in a separate case connected to illegal lobbying.

The case against Manafort was the first - and only, so far - brought to trial by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his Russian Federation investigation.

The jury convicted him of five counts of tax fraud charges, one count of hiding his foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.

It added that "while the government does not take a position as to the specific sentence to be imposed here", it believes Manafort "acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars". In the months leading up to and during his stint on Trump's campaign, which he worked on for free, he then turned to misleading banks to fill his coffers, the prosecutors alleged.

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Prosecutors also reiterated Manafort's criminal conduct and argued that even though Manafort admitted his guilt in his plea agreement in a separate case brought against him by Mueller in Washington, he was found by the judge there to have breached that plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors, the FBI and a federal grand jury. Ever since, Russian Federation has sought to ease the burden of US sanctions imposed on Moscow for that invasion. Previously, Ellis agreed that prosecutors had brought a fair case against Manafort, but only after he lambasted the Mueller team for targeting Manafort as a way to "get" to President Donald Trump.

Manafort will be sentenced for his additional set of charges on Wednesday in D.C.

An activist holds a picture of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort during a protest outside the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse prior to the first day of Manafort's trial, in Alexandria, Virginia, on July 31, 2018. Several others including former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen have pleaded guilty, while longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have painted the former Trump campaign chairman as an incorrigible cheat who must be made to understand the seriousness of his wrongdoing.

Manafort's decisions, Mueller's team said, "were his own and his efforts at misdirection are further proof that he has not accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct".

The veteran Republican political consultant had been convicted of eight charges by a jury in Alexandria last August.

The sentencing capped a stunning downfall for Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican Party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such global figures as former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and Yanukovych.

Ellis in Virginia has sentenced hundreds of defendants during his 30 years on the federal bench - and in a court that's typically considered tough on crime.

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