Ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort sentenced to 47 months in jail
Updated 10:01, 08-Mar-2019
CGTN

The former campaign chairman of U.S. President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, was sentenced Thursday to nearly four years in jail for crimes including tax and bank fraud.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis imposed the sentence of 47 months in prison on Manafort, 69, during the hearing in Alexandria, Virginia. Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant, was found guilty last August by a jury of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

While prosecutors had not recommended a specific sentence, they had cited federal sentencing guidelines that called for 19-1/2 to 24 years in prison. But Ellis said the sentencing guidelines were excessive and would create "an unwarranted disparity" with other cases.

Ellis also noted during the hearing that Manafort "is not before the court for any allegations that he, or anyone at his direction, colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election."

A sketch shows U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort standing before Judge T.S. Ellis and the jury as he was found guilty of eight of the 18 charges he faced in a case of bank and tax fraud at U.S. District Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, August 21, 2018. /VCG Photo

A sketch shows U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort standing before Judge T.S. Ellis and the jury as he was found guilty of eight of the 18 charges he faced in a case of bank and tax fraud at U.S. District Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, August 21, 2018. /VCG Photo

Manafort asked Ellis for mercy and thanked him for conducting a fair trial. He did not express remorse for his actions but talked about how the case has been difficult for him and his family. 

The 69-year-old, who opted not to testify during his trial, told the court that "to say I have been humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement." He described his life as "professionally and financially in shambles."

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

His defense team argued he should get a lighter sentence because he had agreed to cooperate with the prosecution after he was convicted, though another judge found he breached that deal by repeatedly lying to prosecutors, And there is another reason that his bid to secure a 5.5 million U.S. dollars' worth of bank loan on fraudulent premises did not actually succeed. 

However, Ellis rejected those efforts.

Attorney Brian Ketcham, left, arrives with other members of the Manafort defense team for a sentencing hearing for his client, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, March 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Attorney Brian Ketcham, left, arrives with other members of the Manafort defense team for a sentencing hearing for his client, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, March 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Manafort faces sentencing in a separate case next Wednesday in Washington on two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty last September.

While he faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in the Washington case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson potentially could stack that on top of the sentence imposed in the Virginia case, rather than allowing the sentences to run concurrently.

Manafort is the only one of the 34 people and three companies charged by Special Counsel Robert 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 adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty.

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

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 21, 2017. /VCG Photo

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 21, 2017. /VCG Photo

Trump, who has called Mueller's investigation a politically motivated "witch hunt," has not ruled out granting a presidential pardon to Manafort, saying in November that "I wouldn't take it off the table."

Mueller is preparing to submit to U.S. Attorney General William Barr a report on his investigation into whether Trump's campaign conspired with Russia and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction and Russia has denied election interference.

The crimes that Manafort was convicted did not directly relate to the 2016 election.

Source(s): Reuters