BFF-03 Trump ex-campaign chief back in court for further sentencing

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Trump ex-campaign chief back in court for further sentencing

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – US President Donald Trump’s former campaign

chief Paul Manafort, sentenced to 47 months in prison last week for tax and bank

fraud, returns to court on Wednesday to find out whether he faces even more jail time.

Manafort, who turns 70 on April 1, is to appear before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a

federal court in Washington for sentencing on two conspiracy charges to which he has

pleaded guilty.

The veteran Republican political consultant and lobbyist faces a maximum penalty of

five years in prison for each count.

Jackson can decide whether any sentence she imposes runs concurrently with Manafort’s

current sentence or is tacked on to the end.

Manafort’s case is the highest-profile one yet stemming from Special Counsel Robert

Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

He is one of a half-dozen former Trump associates and senior aides charged by Mueller,

although none of them have been accused so far of direct collusion with Moscow to get

Trump elected to the White House.

Manafort was convicted by a jury in August of five counts of filing false income tax

returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report a foreign bank

account.

His conviction was a stunning downfall for a man who also worked on the White House

bids of three Republican presidents — Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush —

and party hopeful Bob Dole.

The charges were not connected to Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign, which he

headed for two months in 2016, but were related to lucrative consulting work he did

for Russian-backed Ukrainian politicians from 2004 to 2014.

Prosecutors alleged that Manafort used offshore bank accounts to hide more than $55

million he earned working for the Ukrainians.

The money was used to support a lavish lifestyle which included purchases of luxury

homes and cars, antique rugs, and expensive clothes, including an $18,500 python

jacket.

Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison last week by US District Judge T.S.

Ellis — a jail term that was well below the federal sentencing guidelines of 19 to 24

years and was criticized by many as too lenient.

– Breached plea agreement –

Ellis described the guidelines as “excessive” and said Manafort had led an “otherwise

blameless life” before being convicted of tax and bank fraud.

Jackson may not prove to be as forgiving.

She sent Manafort to jail last year after he was accused of tampering with witnesses,

one of the two conspiracy charges to which he has pleaded guilty.

And it was Jackson who ruled that Manafort had breached a plea agreement reached with

the special counsel’s office by lying repeatedly to investigators.

Since June, Manafort has been jailed just outside Washington in Alexandria, Virginia,

and he appeared in court in a wheelchair last week looking haggard, his once jet black

hair now mostly gray.

Trump has denounced the Mueller probe as a “political witch hunt” and dangled the

possibility of pardons for some of those indicted by the special counsel, a former FBI

director.

Last week, Trump said Manafort has been going through a “very tough time” and that he

“feels very badly” for him.

Trump’s remarks on Manafort contrasted sharply with what he had to say about his

former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who has denounced his longtime boss as a

racist, a conman and a cheat.

“He directly asked me for a pardon,” Trump said. “I said NO.”

Cohen is to begin serving a three-year prison sentence on May 6 for fraud, tax

evasion, illegal campaign contributions and lying to Congress.

Manafort’s former deputy Rick Gates reached a plea deal with the special counsel’s

office and is awaiting sentencing.

Former national security advisor Michael Flynn admitted lying to the FBI about his

contacts with Russian officials and is also awaiting sentencing.

George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty

to lying to the FBI and spent 12 days in prison.

Another Trump advisor, Roger Stone, awaits trial.

BSS/AFP/AU/07:40 hrs