Monday, 18 June, 2018

Paul Manafort pleads not guilty in Virginia

Manafort pleads not guilty at arraignment in Russia probe Modal Trigger Getty Images
Charlie Simmons | 09 March, 2018, 09:32

If he's found guilty on the charges in the Washington case, Manafort could be sentenced to almost 20 years in prison.

Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates, has pleaded guilty in the District to conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She didn't specify what the statement said, but it appears to be the one Manafort released on February 23, which read, "Notwithstanding that Rick Gates pled today, I continue to maintain my innocence". Guidelines call for about eight to 10 years, though. At the request of prosecutors, charges have been dropped against Gates in Virginia, though they could be resurrected should he fail to live up to his plea agreement.

Manafort will go through two separate trials this year. It's the second case tied to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in which Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

Manafort's former aide in Ukraine and on the Trump campaign, Rick Gates, negotiated a plea deal last month with Mueller, accepting reduced charges in exchange for cooperation in the broader probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who interfered in the 2016 presidential race.

Manafort is charged in Washington with making false statements about his foreign lobbying work, which he primarily did for Ukrainian politicians, and engaging in a money laundering conspiracy. The split in venues, prosecutors explained, is because the alleged crimes also occurred in the Eastern District.

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Also waiting was Bill Christeson of Kensington, Md., who said he has followed Manafort to several court appearances and has been hoping to see the longtime lobbyist prosecuted for decades.

Manafort is innocent of the Virginia charges, his spokesperson Jason Maloni said in a statement after the indictment was announced.

Manafort is facing two federal trials because he declined an offer from prosecutors to consolidate the charges in one court. But Downing told Ellis that his client is in the process of putting together a $10 million bond package that may allow him freedom until trial.

U.S. Senior Judge T.S. Ellis III picked the July date, though he did not foreclose the possibility of granting an extension to the defense if warranted.

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