Trump ex-campaign chair Paul Manafort asks for leniency in sentencing memo

by Kim Boateng Posted on March 3rd, 2019

Washington: President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has pleaded for leniency ahead of his sentencing next week in one of the two federal cases he’s charged in.

Manafort’s attorneys wrote in a memo filed Friday in the Eastern District of Virginia that a prospective prison sentence of 19 to 24 years is “clearly disproportionate” to his crimes as a first-time offender.

A Virginia jury found Manafort guilty last year of eight counts of financial fraud including five tax fraud counts, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.

Manafort, 69, is scheduled to be sentenced by District Judge T.S. Ellis in Alexandria, Va., next Thursday for the eight felonies.

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In a memo to the judge, Manafort said he is “truly remorseful for his conduct.”

“Mr. Manafort intended to repay each of the loans in questions and did not purposely seek to inflict pecuniary harm as to any of the banks,” his lawyers argued regarding his two bank fraud convictions.

The Virginia-based case was the second of two federal indictments Manafort faced related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort’s first indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia in October 2017, charged him with conspiracy, money laundering, tax fraud, failure to file reports of foreign financial assets, serving as an unregistered foreign agent and giving false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Witness tampering charges were added in June 2018 and named a Russian associate accomplice — Konstantin Kilimnik.

Manafort made a plea to avoid the D.C. trial, but the judge found that he breached his plea agreement by intentionally lying about his contact with Kilimnik.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is scheduled to sentence Manafort on March 13 in the D.C. case. Federal sentencing guidelines suggest he get between 17 and 22 years in prison.

Defense attorneys argued that when he pleaded guilty in the D.C. case he admitted guilt to the counts in the Virginia case for which was he was not convicted. But the judge said Friday that she won’t change her finding that he intentionally lied about Kilimnik in violation of a plea agreement.

Manafort’s lawyers also argued in a sentencing memo filed Friday that the charges were meant to pressure him “to provide incriminating information about others,” since they were outside Mueller’s mandate to investigate Russian collusion in the 2016 election.

They added that Manafort “poses no future risk to the public of re-offending” because of his age and the public nature of his crimes that has damaged his reputation.

Manafort has been in jail for almost nine months since he was accused of witness tampering.

On Feb. 23, prosecutors argued for a long prison sentence for Manafort in a 800-page memo that said he “repeatedly and brazenly,” broke the law before, during and after he served as Trump’s campaign chairman, and he “presents a grave risk of recidivism.”

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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