Paul Manafort has been sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison on fraud charges. The 69-year-old former Trump campaign chairman was sentenced to 47 months in prison in the Eastern District of Virginia on Thursday by Judge T.S. Ellis. Manafort was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, one count of failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts and two counts of bank fraud by a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, in August 2018.
The sentence for Manafort is far below what prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office asked for. He could have faced up to 25 years in prison, and federal guidelines called for between 19 to 25 years. But Ellis called those guidelines “excessive” and “high,” and sentenced Manafort to a relatively lenient sentence. He will also serve three years of supervised release when his time in prison is over, will have to pay a $50,000 fine and restitution of between $6 million to $25 million. Manafort will get credit for the nine months he has served in jail already.
Manafort appeared in court for his sentencing on Thursday in a green prison jumpsuit and was sitting in a wheelchair, according to CNN. Manafort addressed the court, saying the past two years have been the “most difficult,” for his family and himself. Manafort told the judge, “To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.” His family and friends, including his wife, Kathleen Manfort, were also in the packed courtroom, CNN reports.
Judge Ellis called the federal guidelines that called for 19 to 25 years in prison “excessive,” before sentencing Manafort. Ellis also pointed out, “he’s not before the court for anything having to do with collusion with the Russian government.”
Manafort is also facing sentencing in a separate case in federal court in Washington, D.C., on March 13. Manafort pleaded guilty in that case to conspiracy to defraud the United States and witness tampering in September after the guilty verdict in the Virginia case. Judge Amy Berman Jackson will decide during that sentencing hearing whether Manafort will serve his prison time at the same time as the sentence handed down by Ellis. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison in that case.
In court filings, prosecutors had asked Ellis to sentence Manafort according to federal guidelines that call for a sentence of between 19 to 25 years in prison. Manafort’s defense attorneys argued for significantly less time in prison, citing Manafort’s remorse, age, poor health, low risk of recidivism and his cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Federal prosecutors said Manafort should not get leniency for cooperating because he lied to investigators.
Manafort was indicted in the Eastern District of Virginia in October 2017. While none of the accusations against Manafort are related to his time working for President Trump’s campaign, the case was the first brought by Mueller’s office as part of the investigation into the 2016 election. Investigators with Mueller’s office found Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman from June to August 2016, hid millions of dollars he received from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while working for him from 2010 to 2014.
Prosecutors said Manafort broke the law during his work as a lobbyist for pro-Russian forces in Ukraine to fund a lavish lifestyle. He also lied to banks and financial institutions for several years and failed to pay taxes on $12 million in items from 2008 to 2014.
Manafort, who will turn 70 on April 1, has been in custody since June 15, 2018, when his bail was revoked by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in D.C. after he was accused of obstruction of justice by trying to tamper with witnesses. Manafort has been held at the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia, which is overseen by the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office. Manafort will likely be moved to a federal facility to serve out the remainder of his sentence after his March 13 hearing in D.C.
Prosecutors Said They Manafort Acted Like He Was ‘Above the Law’ for a Decade & Said They Could Not Find a ‘Comparable Case With the Unique Array of Crimes & Aggravating Factors
Federal prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller’s office did not make a specific recommendation for a sentence for Paul Manafort in the sentencing memorandum they filed in February. The prosecutors also did not take a position as to whether Manafort should serve the sentence concurrently or consecutively with the sentence in the D.C. case. But prosecutors highlighted the federal guidelines that call for a sentence of between 19 to 25 years in prison and said Manafort “brazenly” committed crimes that cut to “the heart of the criminal justice system.”
In the memo, prosecutors called Manafort a “bold” criminal who has acted “above the law” for more than a decade. “His crimes continued up through the time he was first indicted in October 2017 and remarkably went unabated even after indictment,” prosecutors said.
“Manafort chose repeatedly and knowingly to violate the law — whether the laws proscribed garden-variety crimes such as tax fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and bank fraud, or more esoteric laws that he nevertheless was intimately familiar with, such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),” the meo said. “His criminal actions were bold, some of which were committed while under a spotlight due to his work as the campaign chairman and, later, while he was on bail from this court.”
Prosecutors argued, “upon release from jail, Manafort presents a grave risk of recidivism,” citing his lies to the FBI and other investigators.
“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,” Mueller’s prosecutors wrote in the filing. “The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.”
You can read the government’s sentencing memo below:
Manafort’s Defense Attorneys Argued He Has Already Been Punished ‘Personally & Financially’ So a Long Prison Sentence Would Not Be Necessary to Prevent Him From ‘Committing Further Crimes
In the sentencing memo filed by Paul Manfort’s defense attorneys in February, they argued for a sentence significantly below the range that federal guidelines suggest.
“Mr. Manafort has been punished substantially, including the forfeiture of most of his assets,” Manafort’s attorneys wrote. “In light of his age and health concerns, a significant additional period of incarceration will likely amount to a life sentence for a first time offender.”
His attorneys added, “The Special Counsel’s attempt to vilify Mr. Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this Court,” his lawyers wrote. The argued the prosecution has, “devastated him personally, professionally, and financially.” They also took a shot at Mueller’s team for not finding anything tying Manafort to collusion with the Russians during the 2016 election.
“Unable to establish that Mr. Manafort engaged in any such collusion, the Special Counsel charged him . . . with crimes . . . unrelated to the 2016 campaign or any collusion with the Russian government,” his attorneys wrote.
Mueller’s office pushed back in a response to the sentencing memo, saying, “The defendant blames everyone from the Special Counsel’s Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices. Manafort’s effort to shift the blame to others—as he did at trial—is not consistent with acceptance of responsibility or a mitigating factor. … In addition to a lack of remorse, Manafort has his facts wrong. He was being investigated by prosecutors in this district and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice prior to the May 2017 appointment of the Special Counsel.”
You can read the sentencing memo filed by Manafort’s defense attorneys below: