Mueller’s team to file sentencing recommendation on Manafort in Virginia case

Mueller’s team to file sentencing recommendation on Manafort in Virginia case
Posted at 7:23 PM, Feb 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 19:23:41-05

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team plans to reveal Friday how long it believes former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort should spend in prison.

Manafort was convicted by a Virginia jury last August for bank fraud, tax fraud and other financial crimes related to the money he earned working for Ukrainian politicians

The filing is the first opportunity for the special counsel’s office to summarize the criminal activity Manafort engaged in, the remorse he’s shown and the help he gave them, if any, while he was cooperating with the government.

The sentence will be up to the judge alone. Judge T.S. Ellis hasn’t set a sentencing date.

Previous sentencing submissions for other defendants from Mueller’s office have detailed major moments in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, from how the FBI began investigating a crime to describing scenes in which it confronted defendants to how defendants fit into the special counsel’s work.

Manafort, 69, has already spent five months to in jail for violating his bail terms by attempting to contact witnesses in his case.

The last two times Manafort has been seen in court, the once wealthy, slick and poised lobbyist appeared to be aging quickly and in declining health. At one hearing in October, he sat in a wheelchair because of gout that affected his foot. Last month, he relied on a cane and needed to brace himself when standing and walking. His dyed-black hair is now almost entirely gray.

Trial and conviction

During the trial last summer, prosecutors hauled boxes of financial documents and emails, as well as 27 witnesses into the Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom. Jurors heard how Manafort took in millions of dollars a year from his Ukrainian clients through secret offshore bank accounts primarily in Cyprus. With the funds, he bought luxury goods and services, including ostrich- and python-skin jackets and landscaping service to tend to the “M”-shaped flower bed at his Hamptons mansion.

When the payments dried up, Manafort sent fake financial statements to banks to secure millions in mortgages.

Manafort was convicted on eight counts: five of tax fraud, hiding a foreign bank account and defrauding two banks for loans. The tax fraud charges each carry a three-year maximum sentence, while the foreign banking count has a five-year maximum. The bank frauds have the harshest punishment — 30-year maximum sentences each.

In mid-September, Manafort cut a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to two charges in DC federal court, to admit to all allegations they had made against him. He said he would cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly” with the Justice Department. The prosecutors dropped all the other charges he faced.

But after nine cooperation interviews and two testimony sessions before the grand jury, prosecutors accused Manafort telling multiple lies, including about his interactions with longtime Russian colleague Konstantin Kilimnik.

A federal judge certified this week that Manafort had lied intentionally and was covering up information that was “material” to the special counsel’s work. Top Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann let on that Manafort’s attempt to cover up information about a 2016 meeting that then-campaign head Manafort and Kilimnik had, where they talked about a policy in Ukraine that would affect Russia, touched on the “heart” of the investigation.

The allegations in the DC and Virginia federal criminal cases mirror each other, yet the two progressed separately before different judges. He’ll receive separate sentences from each court. The sentencing before the judge in DC, Amy Berman Jackson, is set for March 13.