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Donald Trump’s ex-aide Paul Manafort sentenced to 3 1/2 more years in prison

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced on Wednesday to about 3-1/2 more years in prison for charges arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, with the judge giving him a stern lecture about his lies and criminal behavior.

The sentence of 73 months in prison imposed by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington came six days after a different judge gave Manafort a lenient term of 47 months — just under four years — in prison in a separate case in Virginia, with credit for nine months he already has spent behind bars.

Judge Jackson said 30 months of her sentence will run at the same time as the sentence in the Virginia case. That means the combined sentence will be six years and nine months.

Unlike at his sentencing hearing last week, Manafort said he was sorry for his actions, but Judge Jackson then told him his expression of remorse rang hollow. Judge Jackson told Manafort that he had lied repeatedly and committed fraud repeatedly, and there was no good explanation for the leniency he sought.

“Saying ‘I’m sorry I got caught’ is not an inspiring plea for leniency,” Judge Jackson told Manafort, who was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair because of a condition called gout.

Judge Jackson sentenced Manafort, a veteran Republican political operative who earned millions of dollars working for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine, for two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty in September 2018 in Washington. Manafort, 69, had not showed any remorse at his sentencing in his other case last Thursday.

“I am sorry for what I have done and for all the activities that have gotten us here today,” Manafort told Judge Jackson on Wednesday.

“This case has taken everything from me already — my properties, my cash, my life insurance, trust accounts for my children and grandchildren, and even more,” Manafort added.

“The defendant’s insistence that none of this should be happening to him … is just one more thing that is inconsistent with the notion of any genuine acceptance of responsibility,” the judge told Manafort.

Judge Jackson said at the outset of the sentencing hearing that she would not be influenced by last Thursday’s sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis in Alexandria, Virginia, where Manafort was convicted in August 2018 by a jury for bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

That 47-month sentence was two decades below the upper limit of federal sentencing guidelines, prompting criticism among some legal experts that it was too light.

Judge Jackson could have given Manafort up to 10 years in prison in the Washington case — five for each of the two conspiracy counts.

Judge Jackson ruled on February 13 that Manafort had breached his agreement in the Washington case to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s office by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe including his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

Manafort wore a dark suit and tie to the hearing. At last week’s sentencing, Manafort wore a green prison jumpsuit emblazoned with the words “Alexandria Inmate” on the back.

In the Washington case, Manafort was sentenced for conspiracy against the United States, which included a range of conduct from money laundering to unregistered lobbying, and a second conspiracy count related to witness tampering.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Jackson ruled that Manafort should get a tougher sentence because he acted in a leadership role, directing others to participate in a crime. But Judge Jackson said Manafort should get credit for accepting responsibility because he pleaded guilty to the conduct at issue, though he later breached his cooperation deal with prosecutors.

Source: thehindu.com

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