Trump ex-campaign chief back in court for more sentencing | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 14, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, March 14, 2019

Trump ex-campaign chief back in court for more sentencing

US President Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort, sentenced to 47 months in prison last week for tax and bank fraud, returned to court yesterday 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.

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.

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