Manafort associate sought tickets to Trump inauguration for Ukrainian oligarch, prosecutors say

Manafort associate sought tickets to Trump inauguration for Ukrainian oligarch, prosecutors say
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Sam Patten, the former associate of Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMueller subpoenas former Cambridge Analytica employee Make the special counsel report public for the sake of Americans Paul Manafort should not be sentenced to 20 years in prison MORE who pleaded guilty on Friday to illegal foreign lobbying, sought tickets to President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE’s inauguration for a prominent Ukrainian oligarch, according to U.S. prosecutors.

According to the statement of the offense, Patten tried to conceal the source of a $50,000 payment for four presidential inauguration tickets in 2017 on behalf of the Ukrainian oligarch, who is not named. The Presidential Inauguration Committee does not accept money from foreign nationals, but allows foreigners to attend the inauguration so long as they do not pay for the tickets.

Prosecutors say that Patten “solicited a United States citizen to act as a ‘straw’ purchaser” in order to conceal the source of the money for the tickets. The individual paid $50,000 for the tickets, after receiving the same sum from a company controlled by Patten and an unnamed Russian national. The oligarch had paid the sum to Patten’s firm through a Cypriot account. 

Prosecutors also say Patten misled the Senate Intelligence Committee during testimony in January by withholding documents concerning the payments from the committee and by giving false and misleading testimony. 

Patten pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a federal law governing foreign lobbying, in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Friday. The charge stems from his work lobbying on behalf of a political party in Ukraine known as the Opposition Bloc and the Ukrainian oligarch between 2014 and 2018.

Patten is a former associate of Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman who was recently convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud in a case stemming from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort faces a separate trial in D.C. on charges of conspiracy to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent in late September.

Patten's case was referred by Mueller to prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. The plea agreement suggests that he is cooperating with the special counsel's office, though the extent or nature of that cooperation remains unclear. 

Patten is not being charged for the actions related to the inaugural tickets.

-- Updated 2:57 p.m.