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Mueller's Office Says Paul Manafort Is Facing As Much As 24 Years In Prison — In Just One Of His Cases

Prosecutors did not make a specific recommendation about how much time they think Manafort should spend behind bars.

Last updated on February 15, 2019, at 8:18 p.m. ET

Posted on February 15, 2019, at 7:24 p.m. ET

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller's office said in a court filing Friday night that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort is facing up to 24 years in prison for the financial crimes a Virginia jury found him guilty of last summer.

Prosecutors said Manafort faced a sentencing range of between 19.5 years and just over 24 years in prison, a fine of up to $24 million, and another $24 million in restitution. They did not make a recommendation about the specific sentence they thought Manafort should get, however, only saying that it "should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct."

"In the end, Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars. The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct," prosecutors wrote.

Manafort has yet to be sentenced in either of the two criminal cases Mueller's office brought against him in federal court — one in Alexandria, Virginia, where he went to trial and was convicted, and an ongoing case in Washington, DC, where Manafort entered a guilty plea shortly before his second trial was supposed to start in September.

Manafort was scheduled for sentencing in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia earlier this month, but US District Judge T.S. Ellis III postponed the hearing as Manafort's lawyers and prosecutors sparred in the DC case over whether Manafort lied to investigators after signing his plea deal and violated the agreement.

In Friday's filing, prosecutors laid out the sentencing guidelines calculated by the court's probation department. According to that analysis, Manafort faces 235 to 293 months in prison (federal sentences are tallied by month, not year), a fine of between $50,000 and $24 million, a period of supervised released after he finished his prison time of up to five years, a requirement to pay restitution valued at $24 million, and an order to forfeit property to the government worth $4.4 million.

Between 2010 and 2016, prosecutors said that Manafort's crimes involved more than $16 million in income that he failed to report to the IRS — he owed $6 million in taxes — as well as $55 million that he failed to report in overseas bank accounts, and $25 million that Manafort got from banks through fraud, which led to $6 million in losses for those financial institutions. They wrote that neither they nor the probation department were "aware of any mitigating factors."

"Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship. 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. Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled," prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors also argued that Manafort's age — he is 69 — and any harm he had suffered to his reputation to date should not help him get a lower sentence. Defendants who commit tax crimes are often older and have health problems, prosecutors wrote, and they still get long terms in prison. They noted that Manafort's age didn't reduce his risk of committing more crimes, highlighting the fact that one of the crimes Manafort pleaded guilty to in his DC case involved trying to tamper with witnesses last year, as well as Jackson's findings that he'd lied after signing his plea deal in the fall.

They wrote that the crimes Manafort pleaded guilty to in Washington "demonstrate the defendant's concerted criminality."

The judge handling Manafort's case in DC, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, entered an order on Thursday concluding that prosecutors from Mueller's office had proven "by a preponderance of the evidence" that Manafort made false statements to prosecutors, the FBI, and the grand jury about his contacts with a longtime associate with purported ties to Russian intelligence, Konstantin Kilimnik; about a nonpublic Justice Department investigation — details about that investigation have been redacted in court papers; and a payment related to a debt Manafort owed to a law firm.

Earlier in the day on Friday, prosecutors filed notice in the Virginia case formally alerting Ellis about Jackson's decision. They asked Ellis to set a new date for sentencing "as soon as practicable" and said they planned to file their sentencing memo later in the day.

Manafort's lawyers filed a one-page response asking Ellis to review the entire record in DC when considering the plea agreement breach issue. The information that was redacted in the public versions of briefs and transcripts "is critical to the consideration of the issues raised during that litigation," Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing wrote.

Following a roughly two-week trial and four days of deliberations in August, the federal jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty of eight counts — five counts of filing false income tax returns, one count of failing to report foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the remaining 10 charges, and the judge declared a mistrial on those counts. Although prosecutors failed to win on all counts, the jury did find Manafort guilty in all three categories of crimes he was charged with.

Ellis can also consider the time Manafort has already spent behind bars. In June, Jackson ordered Manafort jailed pending trial after the special counsel's office accused Manafort of trying to interfere with potential witnesses, and he's remained incarcerated since then. As part of the agreement in the DC case, Manafort pleaded guilty to the witness tampering conspiracy that landed him in jail.

Manafort has been held in regional jails in Virginia, not federal facilities. His lawyers say the months of incarceration have taken a psychological and physical toll on Manafort. In court papers, they've said that he now has gout — he's appeared in court in a wheelchair or walking with a cane — and depression and anxiety, noting that he's been in solitary confinement "to ensure his safety" while he cooperates with the special counsel's office.

In DC, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States, a charge that encompassed a range of financial crimes. The two conspiracy counts each carry maximum sentences of five years in prison. He is scheduled for sentencing before Jackson on March 13. Sentencing memos are due in that case by Feb. 22.

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