Manafort sentenced to 47 months
by Harvest Prude
Posted 3/08/19, 10:09 am
A judge on Thursday sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to nearly four years in prison for felonies connected to his previous work in Ukraine. Critics of President Donald Trump decried the sentence as too light and claimed Manafort received leniency not afforded to other common criminals. An Alexandria, Va., jury in August 2018 convicted Manafort of eight felony counts of bank and tax fraud. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office uncovered the crimes while investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but they occurred before Manafort served as Trump’s campaign chairman. Sentencing guidelines recommended a prison term of 19 to 24 years. Manafort’s lawyers asked for a lenient sentence, citing the 69-year-old’s health problems. He suffers from gout and was brought into the courtroom Tuesday in a wheelchair.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III imposed sentence of 47 months, noting that “these guidelines are quite high” and Manafort had lived an “otherwise blameless life.” Manafort will receive credit for the nine months he has already served and will have to pay back up to $24 million.
Democrats skewered Ellis for not adhering to the sentencing guidelines. “Crimes committed in an office building should be treated as seriously as crimes committed on a street corner,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., tweeted.
Manafort’s attorneys emphasized that his hiding millions of dollars from the IRS for work he did in Ukraine amounted to a routine instance of tax evasion. “There was absolutely no evidence that Mr. Manafort was involved in any collusion with the government of Russia,” defense attorney Kevin Downing said after the sentencing hearing.
Manafort also faces the possibility of more prison time in another case in federal court in Washington, D.C., where he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges for his work as an unregistered political lobbyist for Ukraine. He struck a plea deal in hopes of a reduced sentence, but Mueller’s office said he violated that agreement by providing investigators with false information about his Russian contacts and recommended he receive no leniency. The charges carry up to five years in prison each. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson will sentence Manafort on Wednesday.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.