Published: Fri, March 08, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Manafort Will Be Sentenced Today as Russia Mysteries Lingers

Manafort Will Be Sentenced Today as Russia Mysteries Lingers

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced Thursday to 47 months in prison in the bank fraud and tax fraud case brought against him in Virginia by special counsel Robert Mueller.

"The last two years have been the most hard years for my family and I", Manafort told U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis.

Manafort appeared in court today in a wheelchair, dressed in a prison jumpsuit. After Manafort botched his cooperation agreement in the Washington case, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson may decide that Manafort should serve the sentences concurrently or consecutively - a decision that will come in Manafort's second hearing on March 13. He says he hopes to have an opportunity "to show the world who I know I really am". He described his life as "professionally and financially in shambles". "Thank you for a fair trial", Manafort told the judge.

Manafort's ties to Kilimnik unspooled later in a related case against him in Washington, where Manafort pleaded guilty on September 14 to two conspiracy charges and promised to cooperate with prosecutors. Ellis suggested early in the case that Mueller was prosecuting Manafort just to get to Trump, since the charges on which Manafort was found guilty after his August trial were unrelated to the special counsel's investigation into election interference or possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

The jury convicted him of five counts of tax fraud charges, one count of hiding his foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.

They said Manafort engaged in a scheme to hide tens of millions of dollars from the federal government by hiding money overseas, evading taxes, and defrauding several financial institutions. He will be sentenced in his case in D.C. next week. Several others including former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen have pleaded guilty, while longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty. Ever since, Russian Federation has sought to ease the burden of USA sanctions imposed on Moscow for that invasion.

FILE - In this December 11, 2017, file photo, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives at federal court in Washington. "I concluded that it was legitimate" for the special counsel to charge Manafort with financial crimes, Ellis said.

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After pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's ouster, prosecutors said, Manafort lied to banks to secure loans and maintain an opulent lifestyle with luxurious homes, designer suits and even a $US15,000 ostrich-skin jacket.

The sentencing capped a stunning downfall for Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican Party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such global figures as former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and Yanukovych.

There's been speculation that the president, who has expressed sympathy for Manafort, could pardon him former campaign chairman.

Manafort has requested a "significantly" lower sentence for his conviction in the Eastern District of Virginia than sentencing guidelines prescribe.

"Manafort has failed to accept that he is responsible for the criminal choices that bring him to this Court for sentencing", prosecutors Uzo Asonye, Andrew Weissmann, Greg Andres and Brandon Van Grack wrote in a sentencing memo Tuesday.

Prosecutors say the claims of health issues have not withstood scrutiny and even if they did, poor health is not a reason to escape consequences of criminal conduct.

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