Court Battles

Manafort indicted by Manhattan DA on mortgage fraud charges

The Manhattan District Attorney on Wednesday indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in connection to a mortgage fraud scheme, announcing the charges within minutes of his sentencing in federal court in Washington, D.C.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced 16 charges against Manafort, including residential mortgage fraud, attempted mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and conspiracy. Prosecutors said Manafort engaged in the scheme over the course of roughly a year, from December 2015 until January 2017.

The 11-page indictment, filed in New York Supreme Court in New York City, alleges that Manafort falsified business records to obtain millions of dollars in mortgage loans.

“No one is beyond the law in New York,” Vance said in a statement.

“I thank our prosecutors for their meticulous investigation, which has yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable,” he added.

The charges stem from an investigation that began in March 2017, Vance said, roughly seven months before Manafort was indicted on a host of financial crimes by federal prosecutors as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The indictment was announced within minutes of Manafort’s sentencing at a Washington, D.C., courthouse on conspiracy charges that he pleaded guilty to as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to 43 months in prison, bringing his total sentence to 7 1/2 years. The former Trump campaign chairman was sentenced earlier this month to just under four years in jail after his conviction in a Virginia trial for his financial crimes.

The timing of Vance’s announcement is likely to stoke allegations from President Trump and his defenders that politics played a role in hammering Manafort at the state level just as soon as his federal proceedings had wrapped up.

The president on Tuesday lashed out at Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) and the state at large after current Attorney General Letitia James (D) issued subpoenas as part of its investigation into the president’s family business.

Trump has expressed sympathy for Manafort amid his ongoing federal trials.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. I think it’s a very, very tough time for him,” Trump told reporters at the White House last Friday.

The president has not said publicly that he intends to pardon Manafort, but his warm rhetoric toward his former ally has prompted speculation that he may ultimately do so.

While the president could spare Manafort from his federal charges, he does not have the authority to issue pardons in state cases.

Manafort’s attorneys could challenge the indictment on double jeopardy grounds, arguing that the charges are the same as the ones the former Trump associate went on trial for in Virginia. State prosecutors can still prosecute on similar offenses depending on the facts of the case.

The New York Times reported that Vance’s office has expressed confidence it will prevail in any double jeopardy challenge.

New York lawmakers have in recent months sought to close the state’s double jeopardy “loophole.” The change, embraced by the governor and attorney general, would make it easier to prosecute defendants accused of crimes in New York who have already received presidential pardons.

Updated: 2:32 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Manafort charges New York state Paul Manafort Robert Mueller

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