Manafort to be sentenced in Virginia in February

A federal judge on Friday ordered Paul Manafort to be sentenced on Feb. 8 for a series of financial charges he was convicted of in August.

Judge T.S. Ellis III also agreed to expedite the preparation of Manafort’s presentence report, after his attorneys requested he do so, citing “significant issues” with Manafort’s health. And Ellis moved to dismiss the 10 counts on which the jury could not come to a decision in August.

{mosads}Manafort appeared in court on Friday alongside his attorneys. He wore a prison jumpsuit that read “Alexandria inmate” and was brought in in a wheelchair.

But there is no end in sight for the former Trump campaign chairman’s cooperation in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

A jury convicted Manafort on eight counts of bank and tax fraud in August but deadlocked on 10 remaining counts, in a case stemming from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Manafort struck a plea deal with Mueller last month to avert a second federal trial in D.C., and in a major turning point for the investigation agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.

As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to delay his sentencing in Virginia and dismiss the 10 remaining counts until after he is done cooperating or is sentenced — whichever comes last.

Ellis, who presided over Manafort’s Virginia trial, wasn’t happy with that arrangement, calling it “highly unusual” in an order last week and summoning representatives for Mueller and Manafort back in court on Friday. 

“This court is not bound by that agreement,” said Ellis, from the bench about 1:30 p.m. Friday. “Typically, I don’t do that, and I don’t want to treat this case differently than any other case.”

Mueller’s team did not protest Ellis’s decision to dismiss the 10 outstanding counts “without prejudice,” meaning the charges could be filed again in the future, on Friday. 

Ellis ordered pretrial services to begin preparing the presentence investigation report, which will guide the judge on how to sentence Manafort in the case when the Feb. 8 sentencing arrives.

Manafort faces a maximum of 80 years in prison for the crimes but is expected to be sentenced to much less based on federal sentencing guidelines. 

These reports typically take 60-90 days to complete, though Ellis said he would ask that it be expedited at Manafort’s attorney’s request.

“We do think there are significant issues with Mr. Manafort’s health right now,” said Kevin Downing, Manafort’s lead attorney. Downing added that expediting the sentencing process would get Manafort out of the “conditions that he’s in now.” Manafort was moved to federal prison in Alexandria in July.

Manafort, his attorneys and prosecutors with the special counsel’s office are due back in Alexandria court at 9 a.m. on Feb. 8.

Meanwhile, Manafort continues to cooperate in Mueller’s sprawling investigation into Russian interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Manafort, who worked on the campaign for five months before stepping down from his role in August 2016, is seen as a key cooperator in Mueller’s investigation.

Manafort was one of three Trump aides to participate in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer said to possess damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Mueller’s investigation has pressed on quietly behind the scenes amid massive public attention. There has been no end date set for the probe but Trump and his allies have urged its swift end. The president has long protested the probe, accusing Mueller of running a “witch hunt” against him.

On Friday, Ellis said Mueller’s prosecutors had given the judge no indication of when Manafort’s cooperation would end.

“I have not heard from the government an estimate on when the cooperation will be completed,” Ellis said. “I’m not willing to go on endlessly in that regard.” 

Tags Hillary Clinton Paul Manafort Robert Mueller

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