Alexandria, Virginia: Paul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, is set to be sentenced on February 8 in an Alexandria federal court on eight bank and tax fraud crimes.
Judge T.S. Ellis III set the sentencing date during a Friday afternoon hearing. The judge also dismissed 10 counts on which a jury deadlocked at Manafort’s summertime trial.
Legal experts said Manafort is likely to face about seven to 10 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. He also faces sentencing in a related case in the District, also brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Manafort, 69, appeared in court in a wheelchair on Friday and did not rise when Ellis spoke to him. Defence attorney Kevin Downing said in court that there are “significant issues with Mr Manafort’s health right now that have to do with his confinement.”
Those conditions are for Manafort’s safety, Downing said, but he asked that Ellis expedite the pre-sentence investigation so Manafort could move as soon as possible out of a local jail and presumably to a federal prison. Downing did not elaborate on Manafort’s health issues.
“I’m not the judge who ordered that confinement,” Ellis said, but added he would keep those concerns in mind.
As part of his surprise decision in September to plead guilty in a related case in the District, Manafort admitted he committed all the bank and tax fraud crimes he was charged with in Virginia. He also agreed to cooperate with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election led by Mueller.
Under the deal, the special counsel did not have to decide whether to prosecute Manafort on the remaining 10 Virginia charges until after he was done cooperating. But Ellis called that agreement “highly unusual” and told the special counsel to make a decision now.
Lawyers with the special-counsel probe agreed, saying they would accept a dismissal of the counts and prepare for sentencing as long as it remains possible to refile the charges in the future. In court Friday, Ellis said he was not sure whether they could legally raise those charges again.
Manafort’s convictions in Virginia stem from his work for a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine. The jury in Virginia found hid the money he made to avoid paying taxes and then lied to get loans when the political party collapsed and his funding dried up.