Presiding Judge: Paul Manafort Faces ‘Very Real Possibility’ of Life in Prison
AP Photo/ CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICAUS03:45 14.03.2018(updated 03:46 14.03.2018) Get short URL221
Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman currently facing charges of financial fraud, may spend the rest of his life in prison, according to a Tuesday court filing from the federal judge overseeing his case.
TS Ellis III, the federal judge presiding over Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that Manafort “is a person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee and remain at large as well as every incentive to do so.”
As such, Ellis wrote, Manafort would remain under house arrest in his Alexandria home except for medical appointments, emergencies, court appearances and meetings with his attorneys. Manafort is also required to wear two bracelets at all times that allow his movements to be tracked by GPS.
“Given the nature of the charges against the defendant and the apparent weight of the evidence against him, defendant faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison,” Ellis wrote.
The judge added that Manafort could be granted more freedom if he pledges collateral to ensure his appearance in court. Manafort has not been ordered to surrender any collateral, but does face a $10 million fine if he fails to show up to his July 10 court date.
The former campaign chair is being tried in two different courts: Ellis’ district court in Virginia and the court of Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, DC. Manafort filed a motion in the latter court on Monday, offering to put up properties equal in value to $10 million in collateral in exchange for an end to his home arrest.
Jackson has rejected prior motions from Manafort to this effect in the past. His court date in DC is September 17.
The charges against Manafort were filed by Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller, who is tasked with investigating alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian actors. All charges levied against Manafort pertain to his work as a lobbyist in Ukraine on behalf of former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions. None of them have to do with his work on the Trump campaign.
Manafort was first indicted in October and again in February. The first set of charges were conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, failing to register as a foreign agent and making false statements. He faces up to 20 years in prison. The second tranche of charges were preparing and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He faces up to 10 years in prison for the tax charges and 30 years for the bank fraud charges.
Manafort’s deputy and business partner Rick Gates was similarly slammed with charges. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the US and making false statements shortly after the second set of charges and they were dropped in exchange for him cooperating with the investigation.