NY Prosecutors Indict Manafort on Mortgage-Fraud Charges

Hugh Fox
March 14, 2019

He offered U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson a strikingly similar statement as he did to Judge T.S. Ellis last week in Virginia, saying "The last two years have been the most hard that my family and I have ever experienced..."

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

The Manafort case is part of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Still, Manhattan prosecutors, who brought the new indictment, contend their case is safe because mortgage fraud and falsifying business records are state but not federal crimes.

The two criminal cases pursued by Mueller case caused a remarkable downfall for Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican Party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such worldwide figures as former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and pro-Russia former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Trump has repeatedly defended him and floated the idea of granting a pardon, but would not be able to do so in a state case.

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But Jackson noted that she must factor in the common conduct in the two cases and signaled early the complexity of that decision.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave him a stern lecture about his lies and criminal behavior saying there was no good explanation for the leniency he sought. Vox reports presidents can only issue pardons for federal crimes, not state and local crimes.

It's effectively an additional 43 months on top of the 47 months he received last week, for a total of about seven and a half years.

Wednesday's sentencing comes in a week of activity for the investigation. "Let me be very clear, I accept the responsibility for the acts that caused me to be here today". If prosecutors had a strong enough case against him, they could get him to agree to a deal to resign his office in exchange for not receiving prison time, which is how Vice President Spiro Agnew was taken down.

Manafort's Virginia trial last summer laid bare a lavish lifestyle, bolstered by his foreign lobbying patrons and undercut when his overseas business and clients dried up.

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Jackson told Manafort still is not being straight with the court which, she told him pointedly, is one of those places where facts still matter.

Prior to Jackson handing down the sentence, Manafort attempted to apologize and win sympathy from the judge.

Manafort admitted as part of a plea agreement that he obtained $11 million worth of real property through fraud schemes.

Sentence came a week after a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia sentenced Manafort to just 47 months in prison for bank fraud, tax fraud and additional financial crimes, citing his "otherwise blameless" life. But he reached Mueller's team, and pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy.

"It can be very harsh". However, the judge added, "any conspiracy, collusion" with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election was not presented in the case and "therefore it was not resolved".

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"I think the judge showed that she is incredibly hostile toward Mr. Manafort and exhibited a level of callousness that I've not seen in a white-collar case in over 15 years of prosecutions", Downing said.

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