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Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort gets 4-year jail term for fraud

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Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort gets 4-year jail term for fraud
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Alexandria Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS
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President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been sentenced to 47 months in prison, following his conviction last year for tax and bank fraud.

The sentence of just under four years in jail was much more lenient than the term set out in federal guidelines which prosecutors had highlighted, calling for between 19.5 and 24 years behind bars.

But US District Judge T.S.Ellis described the guidelines as “excessive” and “way out of whack”. He did, however, order the 69-year-old to pay a fine of $50,000 (€44,650) and $24 million (€21.43 million) in restitution.

During a hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, Manafort asked for mercy but did not express remorse for his actions. He appeared in court in a wheelchair, said to be because of foot pain.

The former Republican political consultant was found guilty by a jury last August of tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. He had hidden millions of dollars of income from political consulting in Ukraine.

Manafort has been in jail since June 2018, a period of time the judge took into account when handing down the sentence.

The crimes were uncovered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 US presidential election. He has also been looking into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow and whether the president tried to obstruct the inquiry.

But the judge noted that Manafort “is not before the court for any allegations that he, or anyone at his direction, colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election”.

The former lobbyist was Trump’s campaign chief for five months in the run-up to the vote.

He faces sentencing in a separate case next Wednesday in Washington, after pleading guilty last September on two conspiracy charges. It could bring a further jail sentence.

Mueller is preparing to submit to US Attorney General William Barr a report on his investigation. US intelligence found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in an effort to boost Trump – which Moscow denies. The president has repeatedly denied collusion and obstruction.

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