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

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

Sam Patten, the former associate of Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDemocrats return to a battered Trump Manafort's legal team argues NY prosecution constitutes double jeopardy Clip surfaces of Paul Manafort and wife on Nickelodeon game show MORE who pleaded guilty on Friday to illegal foreign lobbying, sought tickets to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy 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 (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal 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.