On Friday, Prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked a federal judge from Virginia to enforce a strict prison sentence for the former campaign manager for President Trump, Paul Manafort, after he was convicted by a jury last year on eight counts of tax and bank fraud. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia filed a sentencing memo where prosecutors state that 69-year-old Manafort deserves no less of a sentence than 19.6 years to 24.4 years in prison and a fine of $50,000 to $24 million.
“While some of these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant’s crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct or the sophistication of his schemes,” stated the prosecutors in the memo. “Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship,” they explain. “He was well-educated, professionally successful and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources.”
The court filing happened on Friday in Virginia, only a few days after a federal judge ruled that Manafort was in breach of his plea deal in a similar case by lying to the investigators, even though he made a pledge to fully cooperate at all times. The finding, which was made by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, could have a dramatic impact on how the court will choose to sentence Manafort in the open case in Virginia.
Manafort was one of the first people involved with Trump to be brought up on criminal charges as the result of Mueller’s investigation to attempt to determine whether Trump’s campaign did indeed work with the Russians to sway the 2016 presidential election in his own favor. Trump has stood his ground and has always maintained his innocence in Mueller’s investigation, calling the investigation a “witch hunt.” Russia has continued to deny having anything to do with the election, as well. Manafort doesn’t face any charges that directly relate him to any kind of Russian interference during the campaign in 2016.
In the case in Virginia, Manafort has been accused by prosecutors of hiding $16 million from the U.S tax authorities. The money in question, which Manafort was accused of spending on his lavish lifestyle, was money that he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Prosecutors claim that when Manafort’s lobbying work was no longer consistent, due to the dismissal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, he began to lie to several banks in order to secure $20 million to make sure that his preferred lifestyle didn’t suffer.
It took almost four days of deliberations, but a 12-member jury eventually found Manafort guilty of five counts of tax fraud, one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. This past September, Manafort pleaded guilty in a similar case in Washington. He was charged with conspiring against the United States and witness tampering, which are charges that include unregistered lobbying and money laundering.
As a part of the deal, Manafort made a pledge to cooperate with the United States Justice Department. In a turn of events, the prosecutors claim that they had caught Manafort wrapped up in several lies. This caused them to want to tear up their agreement, which could cause him to look forward to a much stricter sentence in prison.
Earlier in the week, Jackson made a ruling that there was a “preponderance” of evidence that proved that Manafort was caught lying on three separate occasions. These occasions include the communications that he had with his former business partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, who prosecutors claim has definitive ties to Russian intelligence and was there to help Manafort attempt to obstruct justice. Kilimnik has denied every accusation against him.
To be specific, Judge Jackson found that Manafort did indeed lie about the interactions he had with Kilimnik. Judge Jackson believes that the lies include sharing of the polling data on Trump’s campaign, which they believe led to the election of President Trump in 2016.
That’s not the only thing that Judge Jackson believes Manafort lied about. She also believes that Manafort lied about their conversations about a “Ukrainian peace plan,” which was a proposal that saw the end of U.S. sanctions on Russia – which has been a long-term desire of the government under Russian President Vladimir Putin.