Prosecutors say lobbyist ensnared in Mueller probe deserves leniency

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to impose a lenient sentence on Sam Patten, a consultant who illegally lobbied and steered foreign funds to President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again MORE’s inaugural committee, citing his “substantial assistance” in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE’s investigation and other unnamed criminal probes.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., said in a court filing Monday that Patten had committed to being a trial witness against former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortREAD: Hannity, Manafort messages released by judge Manafort, Hannity talk Trump, Mueller in previously undisclosed messages FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway MORE before he pleaded guilty last year.

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Prosecutors also said Patten met with government investigators several times “to answer numerous questions and explain various documents” as part of his cooperation in several criminal matters, most of which were not identified in the court filing.

“Due to his prior work and experience as a political consultant overseas, Patten has served as a valuable resource for the government in a number of other criminal investigations, providing helpful information about additional individuals and entities,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

Patten faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in D.C. federal court on Friday for failing to register in the U.S. as a foreign agent for a political party in Ukraine, a charge he pleaded guilty to in August. Patten admitted to illegally lobbying on behalf of the Opposition Bloc, a pro-Russia political party that succeeded former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

There are no sentencing guidelines for Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) violations, so prosecutors filed a motion asking Judge Amy Berman Jackson to impose a sentence that “properly reflects Patten’s substantial assistance to the government.”

Patten, through his defense attorneys, asked Jackson in a separate filing to spare him prison time and sentence him to probation. That filing also cited his assistance in ongoing investigations, though it provided few details on the nature or extent of his cooperation.

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His case attracted attention because of its connection to Mueller’s Russia probe. The special counsel referred Patten's case to the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C., and as part of his plea agreement he agreed to cooperate with Mueller's team and other federal investigators.

Patten admitted to using a U.S. citizen as a “straw purchaser” to obtain tickets costing $50,000 to Trump’s inauguration for a “prominent Ukrainian oligarch.” He also admitted to withholding documents from and lying during sworn testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He was not charged with a crime in connection with those admissions.

Patten’s attorneys wrote that the inauguration tickets he purchased for the Ukrainian oligarch, identified by The New York Times and other news outlets as Serhiy Lyovochkin, did not represent “an attempt to influence an election or politician.” They wrote that Patten was instead “blinded by a desire to accommodate his client.”

“Unlike the narratives being pushed by some media outlets, however, Mr. Patten’s involvement in the purchase of the [Presidential Inaugural Committee] tickets was not motivated by a desire to ‘funnel’ foreign money to the Trump campaign,” his attorneys wrote. “There was no political agenda or motive behind Mr. Patten’s role in the purchase of the inauguration tickets. It was entirely the product of a wrong-headed effort to accommodate a client’s request.”

His lawyers also contrasted Patten’s case with Manafort's, asserting that only in “limited instances” did their client's actions constitute FARA violations.

According to court filings from 2018, Patten owned a company with a Russian national identified only as “Person A” that grossed more than $1 million through work for the Opposition Bloc and other Ukraine consulting work between 2015 and 2017, which included lobbying members of Congress and other U.S. officials.

“Person A” matches the description of Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian translator and former Manafort business associate who was charged alongside Manafort with witness tampering in connection with Mueller’s investigation.

Kilimnik, who investigators suspect of having ties to Russian intelligence, emerged as a central figure of interest among Mueller’s team during the course of the 22-month investigation, which came to a close last month.

“It was Mr. Patten’s work and relationship with Kilimnik, primarily during the time period they worked for Foreigner B, that made Mr. Patten of any interest to" the Senate Intelligence Committee and Mueller's office, Patten’s attorneys wrote Monday. “Despite the more recent speculation and revelations, at no point did Mr. Patten know, believe, or suspect that Kilimnik was connected in any way to Russian intelligence.”

Mueller did not find evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign with conspiracy to help Moscow interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a summary of his findings released by Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Anticipation high ahead of first debate Attorney General Barr plays bagpipes at conference The Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? MORE two weeks ago. Barr is expected to release a redacted version of Mueller’s report by mid-April.

It’s unclear what other investigations Patten has cooperated in, and the details are likely to remain concealed in the short term.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are investigating the inaugural committee, including whether donations were illegally made from foreign sources.