Paul Manafort indicted by NY prosecutors moments after federal sentencing

Adjust Comment Print

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced 16 charges against Trump's former campaign manager, including attempted mortgage fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records and residential mortgage fraud, within minutes of Manafort's sentencing at a Washington courthouse on conspiracy charges he pleaded guilty to past year as part of a deal.

Paul Manafort, the longtime Republican consultant who spent five months as President Donald Trump's campaign chairman during the 2016 election, was indicted Wednesday by the Manhattan District Attorney in connection to a mortgage fraud scheme.

Manafort's sentence stemmed from his guilty plea for lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political figure without declaring the work, making it a key part of Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election.

Trump has the authority as U.S. president to pardon Manafort for all his federal convictions, meaning he could be freed from his combined seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence. The charges, which originate from unpaid state taxes, could not be erased by a presidential pardon, which are only applicable to federal crimes.

Both cases arose from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 USA election. Jackson added more than three years to that in the related case in Washington, where he faced a maximum of 10 years after pleading guilty to two conspiracy charges.

Manafort faces a maximum of 10 years in prison at his sentencing as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. A number of people wrote letters to Jackson supporting Manafort including his wife, one of his daughters and his brother. "He has not learned a harsh lesson", prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the court, referring to the witness tampering charge.

Abramson also tweeted, "While an attempted Trump pardon is still very possible, Manafort *did* get a great deal across these two cases".

"But for a short stint as a campaign manager in a presidential election, I don't think we'd be here today", Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing told Jackson.

Reading from a three-page statement, Manafort asked for mercy and said the criminal charges against him had "taken everything from me already".

A judge in Virginia last week sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison for tax evasion and other financial crimes, far below sentencing guidelines that allowed for more than two decades in prison, prompting national debate about disparities in how rich and poor defendants are treated by the criminal justice system.

Just after the sentence was delivered, news broke that Manafort was indicted in NY on state charges, seen as a strategy for preventing a potential presidential pardon. In the past, Trump has tweeted about how poorly he felt Manafort was being treated. And Aaron Maté, a contributor to The Nation, commented on Twitter that Manafort "is now the Trump figure" with the "most prison time". Last summer, Manafort was found guilty in the Virginia trial of having defrauded Citizens after he was charged with misleading the bank to obtain a $3.4 million loan on a condo he owned in SoHo.

Despite his apparent contrition, Manafort is not being forthcoming about the witness-tampering allegations against him, Jackson said.

Jackson ruled that Manafort should get a tougher sentence because he acted in a leadership role, directing others to participate in a crime, rejecting a defence argument that the sentencing enhancement should only apply to those who lead criminal organizations.