WASHINGTON – Paul Manafort, the man who helped guide Donald Trump to the presidency, was sentenced to a total of more than seven years in federal prison on Wednesday after a judge added 43 months to the sentence he received in another case last week.
The pair of prison sentences marks the end of Manafort's abrupt transformation from a globe-trotting political operative with mansions and lavish clothing to a frail-looking, wheelchair-bound, gray-haired inmate who, in his own words, had been "humiliated" by his changed circumstances.
Manafort, speaking from a wheelchair, told the judge: "I want to say to you now that I am sorry for what I've done."
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson appeared unpersuaded, delivering a withering rebuke from the bench. She said Manafort had spent much of his career "gaming the system," that he cheated taxpayers so that he could maintain an extravagant lifestyle, and that he remained unrepentant despite his apology. "Saying I’m sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency."
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A federal judge in Virginia sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison last week for a scheme to defraud banks and taxpayers out of millions of dollars. Jackson added more than three years to that in the related case in Washington, where he faced a maximum of 10 years after pleading guilty to two conspiracy charges. She also ordered him to spend three years on federal supervision, when he is freed from prison and to pay $6 million in restitution. The nine months he has already spent in jail will count toward his sentence.
Her decision brings Manafort's total prison sentence to 7 ½ years.
"It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved," Jackson said.
Minutes after she finished sentencing Manafort, state prosecutors in New York announced that they had filed charges of their own against Manafort, including counts of mortgage fraud and conspiracy. The new indictment means Manafort's legal troubles will not end with the prison term imposed Wednesday, and because they were filed by state authorities, they are beyond the reach of a pardon from Trump.
Jackson said Manafort's crimes were aimed at propping up an “opulent” lifestyle that included “more homes than one family can occupy and more suits than one man can wear.”
And she blasted Manafort for concealing his activities from the government and for lying to federal investigators after promising to cooperate with them.
"If people don't have the facts, democracy can't work," she said.
During the sentencing hearing, Manafort pleaded with Jackson to spare him from the prospect of spending the remainder of his life in federal prison. "Please let me and my wife be together," said Manafort, who turns 70 in less than three weeks.
Manafort pleaded guilty to two felonies in Washington as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Andrew Weissmann, one of the prosecutors, said Manafort lied for years to government officials by not disclosing his lobbying work in Ukraine, as federal law requires. “He not only kept what he was doing from the American public; he also kept what he was doing from the people he was lobbying.” For years, Weissmann said, Manafort hid off-shore accounts, falsified tax returns and faked loans to disguise income he’d earned from his work in Ukraine.
"Paul Manafort’s upbringing, his education, his means, his opportunities could have led him to lead a life and to be a leading example in this country. At each juncture, though, Mr. Manafort chose to take a different path," Weissmann said. "He engaged in crime again and again."
Manafort's lawyer said he found himself entangled in the high-profile, high-pressure investigation of Russian election interference, even though he was charged with unrelated crimes. Kevin Downing, one of Paul Manafort's defense lawyers, urged Jackson to consider the intense public scrutiny Manafort has faced since he was indicted in 2017.
"But for a short stint as a campaign manager (for President Trump), I don't think we would be here today," Downing said.
Prosecutors have urged Jackson to impose a significant sentence, describing Manafort as a “hardened” criminal who “repeatedly and brazenly violated the law” for more than a decade and whose crimes continued even after his indictment in 2017. Defense attorneys have said a lengthy prison term would likely amount to a life sentence for Manafort. They said Manafort’s crimes do not rise to the organized crimes of drug cartels, and that the charges aren't about “collusion” with Russia, which was the central focus of Mueller's investigation.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis in Virginia heeded defense attorneys’ call for leniency on Thursday, when he sentenced Manafort to nearly four years in prison and three years on federal supervision for masterminding a scheme to defraud banks and taxpayers out of millions of dollars he had amassed through years of illicit lobbying work on behalf of a pro-Russian political faction in Ukraine. The sentence fell far below the 20 to 24 years that federal sentencing guidelines had recommended.
Jackson dismissed Manafort's refrain that the charges were unrelated to Russia as something that should have no bearing on his sentence.
Jackson revoked Manafort’s bail last summer following allegations that he tried to obstruct the Russia inquiry while on house arrest. She sided with prosecutors last month that Manafort violated his plea agreement by lying repeatedly to prosecutors and the FBI after promising to cooperate.
"I would be even more surprised if her sentence reflected the sort of leniency that Judge Ellis showed," said Ken White, a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. "I think she views him as someone who acted badly during the course of the case ... I would be very, very worried about this next step if I were Manafort or his lawyers."
Ellis’ sentence surprisedsome legal experts and was promptly met with backlash, particularly from Democratic lawmakers.
A USA TODAY analysis of the U.S. Sentencing Commission's data found that Manafort received the type of sentencing available only to people who cooperated with the government. And his 47-month punishment is lower than those of many defendants who prosecutors deemed as cooperative.
Manafort's lawyers have asserted that he cooperated with the special counsel, citing about a dozen interviews with prosecutors totaling more than 50 hours. But prosecutors disputed that that amounted to cooperation, saying Manafort had failed to provide useful information and had lied to investigators and to a grand jury.
The analysis found that of the nearly 67,000 defendants sentenced in federal courts in the 2017 fiscal year, 308 whose guideline calculations called for them to serve at least 15 years in prison wound up receiving less than five years. The majority of these defendants received this kind of break in sentencing because the government asked for it and because they cooperated with prosecutors.
Manafort, whom prosecutors did not believe substantially cooperated, received a sentence below that. In fact, of those 308 cases, there's was one fraud case in which the sentence was comparable to Manafort's. It involved a defendant in New York who faced a recommendedminimum of 188 months and was sentenced to 30 months.
Jackson is also presiding over the case of Roger Stone, another Trump adviser indicted as part of the Mueller investigation. Last month, Jackson found herself in the national spotlight after a picture of her next to what appeared to be cross hairs was posted on Stone's Instagram account.
Contributing: Bart Jansen and Kevin Johnson
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Paul Manafort sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in prison. 'It is hard to overstate the number of lies.'