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Paul Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman, to be sentenced on fraud charges

Image: Manafort arrives for arraignment on charges of witness tampering, at
Paul Manafort arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington on June 15, 2018. Copyright Jonathan Ernst Reuters file
Copyright Jonathan Ernst Reuters file
By Dartunorro Clark with NBC News Politics
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Federal guidelines call for Manafort, 69, to spend 19 to 24 years in prison.


Paul Manafort, the longtime political operative who served as chairman of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, is expected to be sentenced Thursday in Virginia federal court on tax and bank fraud charges.

Federal guidelines call for Manafort, 69, to spend 19 to 24 years in prison, though the judge is free to impose a sentence below that range. In a sentencing memo to Judge T.S. Ellis last month, prosecutors called the charges against Manafort "serious, longstanding, and bold," adding that the offenses were so serious that "the government has not located a comparable case with the unique array of crimes and aggravating factors."

"Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars," prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller wrote in the memo. "The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes."

In August, a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted Manafort on five counts of tax fraud, one count of failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts and two counts of bank fraud. The judge, however, declared a mistrial on the 10 other charges he faced.

None of the charges involved Manafort's work on the Trump campaign in 2016. Though the trial was the first public test of Mueller's probe, the charges had nothing to do with Mueller's main task as special counsel — to discover whether anyone in the U.S. was helping Russia interfere in the election.

Prosecutors built a case that Manafort for years hid millions from U.S. tax authorities in overseas accounts, spending the money to maintain a lavish lifestyle and lying to banks to generate more cash.

Manafort also faces a second sentencing hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C., on March 13.

The judge in that case, Amy Berman Jackson, must decide if Manafort, who turns 70 in April, will serve the two sentences at the same time or whether they must be served consecutively.

In that case, he pleaded guilty in September to two new counts, admitted his guilt to the 10 outstanding counts the Virginia trial and agreed to cooperate with special counsel prosecutors in a deal that would have made him eligible for a lighter sentence. He also agreed to forfeit multiple bank accounts and properties, including his apartment in Trump Tower. However, Judge Jackson since agreed with investigators' assessment that Manafort lied to them in order to protect a Russian conspirator.

As such, the cooperation deal is off, and he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

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