FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2017 file photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, leaves Federal District Court in Washington. The 69-year-old Manafort is scheduled to appear Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, where he could get 20 years under federal guidelines but his lawyers have sought a shorter sentence. Manafort was convicted of hiding from the IRS millions of dollars he earned from his work advising Ukrainian politicians. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Manafort gets 47 months, judge cites mostly ‘blameless’ life

Paul Manafort has been jailed since June, so he will receive credit for the nine months already served

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for tax and bank fraud related to his work advising Ukrainian politicians, much less than what was called for under sentencing guidelines.

Manafort, sitting in a wheelchair as he deals with complications from gout, had no visible reaction as he heard the 47-month sentence. While that was the longest sentence to date to come from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, it could have been much worse for Manafort. Sentencing guidelines called for a 20-year term, effectively a lifetime sentence for the 69-year-old.

Judge T.S. Ellis III, discussing character reference letters submitted by Manafort’s friends and family, said Manafort had lived an “otherwise blameless life.”

Manafort has been jailed since June, so he will receive credit for the nine months he has already served. He still faces the possibility of additional time from his sentencing in a separate case in the District of Columbia, where he pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal lobbying.

Ellis imposed the sentence, Manafort told him that “saying I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.” But he offered no explicit apology, something Ellis noted before issuing his sentence.

Manafort steered Donald Trump’s election efforts during crucial months of the 2016 campaign as Russia sought to meddle in the election through hacking of Democratic email accounts. He was among the first Trump associates charged in the Mueller investigation and has been a high-profile defendant.

But the charges against Manafort were unrelated to his work on the campaign or the focus of Mueller’s investigation: whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with Russians.

A jury last year convicted Manafort on eight counts, concluding that he hid from the IRS millions of dollars he earned from his work in Ukraine.

Manafort’s lawyers argued that their client had engaged in what amounted to a routine tax evasion case, and cited numerous past sentences in which defendants had hidden millions from the IRS and served less than a year in prison.

Prosecutors said Manafort’s conduct was egregious, but Ellis ultimately agreed more with defence attorneys. “These guidelines are quite high,” Ellis said.

Neither prosecutors nor defence attorneys had requested a particular sentence length in their sentencing memoranda, but prosecutors had urged a “significant” sentence.

Outside court, Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, said his client accepted responsibility for his conduct “and there was absolutely no evidence that Mr. Manafort was involved in any collusion with the government of Russia.”

Prosecutors left the courthouse without making any comment.

Though Manafort hasn’t faced charges related to collusion, he has been seen as one of the most pivotal figures in the Mueller investigation. Prosecutors, for instance, have scrutinized his relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate U.S. authorities say is tied to Russian intelligence, and have described a furtive meeting the men had in August 2016 as cutting to the heart of the investigation.

After pleading guilty in the D.C. case, Manafort met with investigators for more than 50 hours as part of a requirement to co-operate with the probe. But prosecutors reiterated at Thursday’s hearing that they believe Manafort was evasive and untruthful in his testimony to a grand jury.

Manafort was wheeled into the courtroom about 3:45 p.m. in a green jumpsuit from the Alexandria jail, where he spent the last several months in solitary confinement. The jet black hair he bore in 2016 when serving as campaign chairman was gone, replaced by a shaggy grey. He spent much of the hearing hunched at the shoulders, bearing what appeared to be an air of resignation.

Defence lawyers had argued that Manafort would never have been charged if it were not for Mueller’s probe. At the outset of the trial, even Ellis agreed with that assessment, suggesting that Manafort was being prosecuted only to pressure him to “sing” against Trump. Prosecutors said the Manafort investigation preceded Mueller’s appointment.

The jury convicted Manafort on eight felonies related to tax and bank fraud charges for hiding foreign income from his work in Ukraine from the IRS and later inflating his income on bank loan applications. Prosecutors have said the work in Ukraine was on behalf of politicians who were closely aligned with Russia, though Manafort insisted his work helped those politicians distance themselves from Russia and align with the West.

In arguing for a significant sentence, prosecutor Greg Andres said Manafort still hasn’t accepted responsibility for his misconduct.

“His sentencing positions are replete with blaming others,” Andres said. He also said Manafort still has not provided a full account of his finances for purposes of restitution, a particularly egregious omission given that his crime involved hiding more than $55 million in overseas bank accounts to evade paying more than $6 million in federal income taxes.

The lack of certainty about Manafort’s finances complicated the judge’s efforts to impose restitution, but Ellis ultimately ordered that Manafort could be required to pay back up to $24 million.

In the D.C. case, Manafort faces up to five years in prison on each of two counts to which he pleaded guilty. The judge will have the option to impose any sentence there concurrent or consecutive to the sentence imposed by Ellis.

Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

Matthew Barakat And Stephen Braun, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cycslists were all smiles during ninth Tour de Victoria

More than 2,100 cyclists participated

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after Const. Beckett’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Police investigating incident in Saanich neighbourhood

Neighbours tell Black Press Media that a body has been found, but police remain tight-lipped.

Colwood man takes on Ride to Conquer Cancer for 11th year in a row

Team Finn has raised almost $3 million for BC Cancer Foundation

Langford lizard sighting excites Victoria museum curator

Curator of vertebrate zoology/knowledge explains the spread of the Wall lizard in the region

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read