06:50 GMT28 October 2020
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    Paul Manafort, political consultant and former election campaign manager for US President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to just shy of four years in prison for financial crimes. He is expected to serve only 38 more months because of time already spent behind bars. Manafort was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

    Judge T.S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that the 70-year-old Manafort, who once served as campaign chairman of Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign, will serve only a tiny fraction of the time in prison prosecutors sought.

    During comments prior to his sentencing, Manafort told the court that his life is "professionally and financially in shambles."

    "To say I have been humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement," he continued.

    "I appreciate the fairness" of this court during the proceedings, Manafort reportedly told Ellis, speaking from a wheelchair. "You bent over backwards… Thank you for a fair trial… I ask you to be compassionate."

    The judge consented, noting that the recommended sentence of 19-24 years was, in his view, "excessive."

    Ellis began the sentencing hearing by noting that "we are not here for Russian collusion," CNN reported. Indeed, none of the crimes Manafort has been charged with include any type of collusion: all deal with financial crimes such as bank fraud, money laundering and tax evasion, related to his time as a political consultant working for clients in Ukraine.

    Ellis made it clear early in the August 2018 trial that he wouldn't tolerate political games in his courtroom.

    "He's not afraid to use his discretion to help defendants when he believes it's the right thing to do," defense lawyer Cary Citronberg said at the time, Sputnik reported. "So, if Judge Ellis thinks Mueller is acting improperly or Manafort is being treated unfairly, it's certainly possible he'll use the full weight of his power in potentially unpredictable ways to achieve a just outcome."

    A jury convicted Manafort on eight of 18 charges in August, and in September he pleaded guilty to the remaining 10 charges as part of a plea deal.

    However, after the Office of Special Counsel revealed that Manafort had violated the terms of that deal by lying to the FBI, OSC and grand jury, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled last month that "the Office of Special Counsel is no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, including its promise to support a reduction of the offense level in the calculation of the US Sentencing Guidelines for acceptance of responsibility.

    Jackson is overseeing Manafort's second trial on conspiracy charges, for which he'll be sentenced next week. It's unclear whether or not Jackson will rule his sentences to be concurrent to the Virginia case or consecutive to it.

    sentencing, Russiagate, Bank Fraud, fraud, trial, financial crime, Paul Manafort, Virginia, Alexandria
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