Manafort associate sentenced to three years probation, no prison time

D.C.-based consultant Sam Patten was sentenced to three years probation on Friday for failing to register as lobbyist for a Ukrainian political party.

Patten, a former associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortJustice Department intervenes, keeps Manafort from being sent to Rikers Island: report Justice Department intervenes, keeps Manafort from being sent to Rikers Island: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Supreme Court double jeopardy ruling could impact Manafort MORE who pleaded guilty last August and cooperated in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction 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 as well as other criminal probes. On Friday, he also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 500 hours of community service.

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Judge Amy Berman Jackson handed down Patten’s sentence in federal court in Washington, D.C., describing his offense as serious but suggesting his acceptance of responsibility and substantial cooperation with government prosecutors were strong mitigating factors.

“This is not a mere technicality and it wasn’t an oversight,” Jackson said.

Patten pleaded guilty last August to one count of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by failing to publicly disclose his lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian political party over a four-year period. Patten was employed by the Opposition Bloc, a pro-Russia political party that succeeded former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, and his work included meeting with members of Congress and U.S. officials and placing op-eds in U.S. news outlets.

Patten’s case has attracted attention because of its connection to Mueller’s investigation. Mueller handed off his case to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., but Patten as part of his plea deal cooperated with the special counsel as well as other federal prosecutors.

In a filing earlier this week, attorneys for the government argued that Patten deserved leniency, citing his “substantial assistance” in the Mueller investigation as well as other criminal probes that were not described, though they did not make a specific sentencing recommendation.  Andrew Weissmann, who was one of Mueller’s lead prosecutors before the special counsel concluded his investigation three weeks ago, was spotted in the courtroom Friday watching the proceedings.

Patten, 47, offered brief but contrite remarks just before receiving his sentence. He was joined by his wife and other family members in court.

“I fully recognize the seriousness of my conduct and crimes that I committed,” Patten, wearing a black suit and blue shirt, told the judge. “I behaved as though the law didn’t apply to me, and that was wrong.”

Patten had asked to be sentenced to probation through his attorney Stuart Alexander Sears, who argued in a court filing Monday that his offense was less egregious than other FARA charges brought by the special counsel’s office, including those against Manafort, and that only in “limited instances” did his actions constitute violations of the law.

Sears also said Friday that Patten chose “his country” by agreeing to cooperate with the government as part of his plea, which he said likely resulted in the destruction of his career.

“I don’t want to overstate this, your honor,” Sears told Jackson. “He chose his country. He chose his government. He chose to probably forfeit his career.”

Prosecutors and Jackson took issue with Sears’s argument about Patten’s offense. At one point during Friday’s proceedings, Jackson said Sears seemed to be trying to “minimize” his client’s conduct.

But Jackson noted that Patten’s sentence would differ greatly from that of Manafort, who pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges in her courtroom related to his own foreign lobbying activity as well as a witness tampering scheme. Manafort is currently serving a 7-and-a-half-year jail term for those charges as well as eight counts of financial crimes he was found guilty of in federal court in Virginia.

“There are reasons why your sentence is not going to be like his sentence,” Jackson said.

Much of Patten’s cooperation with the government remains shrouded in mystery, though federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum earlier this week that he had agreed to be a trial witness against Manafort before the former Trump campaign aide reached a plea agreement with Mueller’s prosecutors to avert a second criminal trial in D.C. last fall. Manafort ultimately breached that agreement by lying to the special counsel’s office.

“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 the memo, noting he has met or spoke with government investigators nine times.

Patten owned a consulting company with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national and former business associate of Manafort, and through their work for the Opposition Bloc and other Ukraine consulting work generated more than $1 million between 2015 and 2017, according to court filings made last year. Kilimnik is referred to only as “Person A” in those filings.

At the time of his plea, Patten also admitted to using an American citizen as a “straw purchaser” to obtain tickets to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE’s inauguration for a prominent Ukrainian oligarch, who is not named in court filings but believed to be Serhiy Lyovochkin. Patten also admitted to withholding documents from and giving false testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee in the course of its Russian interference investigation. Patten was not charged with any crimes as a result of those admissions.

In his sentencing memorandum, Patten’s attorney Sears asserted Monday that the inaugural ticket purchase did not represent “an attempt to influence an election or politician” and that Patten was instead “blinded by a desire to accommodate his client.”

Patten’s case is one of a handful that Mueller passed off to prosecutors in other districts in the course of his 22-month probe. Mueller concluded his investigation at the end of March, and, according to a description of his findings from Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question MORE, did not find evidence to charge members or associates of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. 

—Updated at 11:39 a.m.