Paul Manafort Sentenced to Almost Four Years in Prison

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, was sentenced to almost four years in prison on a series of tax and bank fraud charges.

A federal judge imposed the sentence of 47 months after a lengthy hearing on Thursday in Alexandria, Va. The sentence is well short of the 19 to 24 year sentence recommended by prosecutors, but the judge indicated that such a punishment would be excessive, according to news reports. Manafort also was fined $50,000 and ordered to pay restitution, which is expected to total in the millions.

At a sentencing hearing, Manafort reportedly wore a green jumpsuit and was in a wheelchair, and he spoke to the court and told the judge, “I know it is my conduct that brought me here.”

He asked the judge, T.S. Ellis, for “compassion,” and said “To say that I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.” His attorneys say he is suffering from a number of health conditions.

Manafort, 69, was convicted by a federal jury in August on eight of 18 charges having to do with his political consulting business and work he did on behalf of a pro-Russia government in Ukraine. He was found guilty on five tax fraud charges, two counts of bank fraud, and one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts.

The Virginia case was the first trial of charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether there was coordination or collusion by the Trump campaign. Although Mueller’s team brought the charges against Manafort, his conviction was not related to potential collusion in the 2016 campaign.

Last fall, Manafort reached a plea agreement with Mueller’s team just before he was to go to trial in Washington on a series of other charges, including failing to register as a foreign agent. The sentencing in that case is scheduled for Wednesday.

But Mueller’s team said that even though Manafort agreed to cooperate with their investigation, he lied to them about the nature of his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate suspected of having  ties to Russian intelligence. The federal judge in the D.C. case, Amy Berman Jackson, concluded that Manafort did give false information. That could open to door to a harsher sentence.

The charges against him in the Virginia federal trial largely had to do with his consulting practice, including his work for Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of Ukraine who was overthrown in 2014. His associate, Rick Gates, plead guilty in February to two charges of conspiracy and lying to federal investigators, and served as the government’s star witness in Manafort’s trial.

Outside the courthouse, Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, told reporters, “Mr. Manafort finally got to speak for himself. He made clear he accepts responsibility for his conduct, and I think most importantly what you saw today was the same thing that we had said from day one. There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved in any collusion with any government official from Russia.”