Manafort waits to be sentenced for bank, tax fraud

President Trump’s ex-campaign chair Paul Manafort will be sentenced by a federal judge in Virginia on Thursday for bank and tax fraud — and could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Judge T.S. Ellis could deliver what would effectively be a life sentence to the shady 69-year-old if he follows federal sentencing guidelines that call for 19½ to 24 years in a federal pen for the eight charges the veteran GOP political operative was convicted of by a jury in Alexandria last August. The sentencing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Manafort’s crimes were first uncovered during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible cooperation by the Trump campaign.

He was convicted after prosecutors accused him of hiding from the government millions of dollars he earned as a consultant for Ukraine’s former pro-Russia government.

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 much-mocked $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket.

Manafort faces sentencing in a separate case in Washington on March 13 on two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty last September. While he faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in the Washington case, federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson potentially could stack that on top of whatever prison time Ellis imposes in Virginia, rather than allowing the sentences to run concurrently.

Jackson on Feb. 13 ruled that Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with Mueller’s office by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe, including his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

Jackson’s ruling could impact the severity of his sentence in both cases.

Mueller is preparing to submit to Attorney General William Barr a report on his investigation into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether Trump had unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction, repeatedly calling Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt” and “hoax” cooked up by Democrats out to get him.

Manafort is the only one of the 34 people and three companies charged by Mueller to have gone to trial.

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 crony Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty.

Gates, a key witness against Manafort, has yet to be sentenced due to his ongoing cooperation with prosecutors.

Defense lawyers have asked Ellis to sentence Manafort to between 4¼ and 5¼ years in prison.

They are expected to tell the judge Manafort is remorseful and that the sentencing guidelines cited by prosecutors call for a prison term disproportionate to the offenses he committed.

Prosecutors have not suggested a specific sentence. Mueller’s office, in court filings, said that only Manafort was to blame for his crimes, that he has shown no remorse and that his lies to prosecutors after his guilty plea should be taken into account.

“The defendant blames everyone from the Special Counsel’s Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices,” prosecutors wrote.

With Reuters

Copyrighted By nypost.com. Source

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