WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Friday sentenced American lobbyist W. Samuel Patten to 36 months of probation for funneling $50,000 from foreign nationals to President Donald Trump's inaugural committee.
Patten, 47, a longtime Washington operative, will also be required to pay a $5,000 fine and serve 500 hours of "hands-on" community service.
He pleaded guilty last August for failing to register as a foreign agent in connection with his work for a Ukrainian lobbying effort launched by former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The case is a spin-off of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Government prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum on Friday that Patten had provided substantial assistance to Mueller and other ongoing investigations.
On Friday, Patten spoke briefly before U.S District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C. — the judge who oversaw one of Manafort's cases — to express his remorse.
"I behaved as though the law didn't apply to me and that was wrong," he said.
Prosecutors allege he bought four tickets on behalf of two unnamed foreign nationals, one from Russia, the other from Ukraine, and tried to conceal the deal. Patten paid the straw purchaser $50,000 and a day later the purchaser paid the Presidential Inauguration Committee the same amount for the four tickets. Prosecutors also said Patten attended an Inauguration Committee event in Washington with an unidentified foreign person who they said is from Ukraine.
Court documents do not suggest the Trump Inauguration Committee was aware of the straw purchase. Presidential inaugural committees are prohibited from accepting donations from foreign nationals, according tothe Federal Election Commission.
Jackson said on Friday that Patten's conduct was unlike recently prosecuted FARA cases, such as the one dealing with Manafort. Manafort was sentenced to nearly four years on tax and bank fraud charges by a federal judge in Virginia and an additional 43 months by Jackson on conspiracy charges.
"This is not the picture of someone who is motivated by greed, who sells his services to the highest bidder," she said.
Patten's friends and family wrote letters of support to the judge detailing his childhood and his recent focus on his physical and mental health. Jackson said she was particularly affected by these letters, saying he "deserved to be commended" for his recent turnaround.
"You've done everything in your power to make amends," she said.
Charlie Gile reported from Washington, and Dartunorro Clark from New York.