Manafort Sentenced On Thursday To 47 Months In Prison

Mar 7, 2019
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Today, President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, stood before a Virginia judge to face sentencing on a conviction of financial crimes. It was a dramatic fall from grace for a man who once advised presidents and earned and spent millions. In the end, Judge T.S. Ellis III sentence Manafort to 47 months in prison.

NPR's Ryan Lucas was in that courtroom and joins us now. And, Ryan, Manafort faced a sentence of more than 20 years. So what did the judge say in handing this down?

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Well, Judge T.S. Ellis said that Manafort's crimes are undeniably serious. He made that clear. We're talking about tax fraud, failing to disclose a foreign bank account and bank fraud. Those are the charges that a federal jury here in Alexandria, Va., convicted Manafort on.

Now, the tax fraud, Judge Ellis said, basically amounts to stealing from every American who pays taxes, and that is a nefarious thing. Judge Ellis said that he took all sorts of factors into consideration when making his sentence - deterrence, looking at similar cases. And that last issue - similar cases appeared to be a big factor in Manafort's sentence.

The guidelines' range for this was 19 to 24 years. Judge Ellis called that way out of whack. He landed on ultimately a sentence of 47 months for Manafort and financial penalties of 24.8 million in restitution and a $50,000 fine.

CORNISH: Paul Manafort did not take the stand during his trial last year, but I understand he spoke today. He addressed the judge. What did he have to say?

LUCAS: Well, it was a dramatic moment. Manafort was wheeled in in a wheelchair. He was wearing a baggy green prison uniform with Alexandria inmate written on the back. As you noted, we hadn't heard from him before, so this was the first time they really got to hear him talk in court. He said that the last two years were the most difficult years for him and his family.

He said that he felt humiliation and shame, deep pain about the pain that he's caused his family. He's spent nine months in solitary so far in jail due to another case. He said that that was very hard. He feels the punishment from these proceedings already, he said. The nine months that he spent in jail has impacted his health, his professional life, his financial life.

And he said that he's had time to reflect while in jail. He wants to turn his notoriety into a positive. And he asked the court for compassion. Now, one thing that you didn't hear there was him saying I'm sorry. And Judge Ellis actually noted that later. He said, I didn't hear you say I regret breaking the law.

CORNISH: There's more to come for Paul Manafort because he's due to be sentenced next week by a Washington, D.C., judge, right? What can we expect then?

LUCAS: That's right. That's another case that was brought against Manafort by the special counsel's office. It's related to the one in Alexandria but different. In the case in D.C., Manafort pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges. He also agreed to cooperate with the government. But ultimately, that deal collapsed after the special counsel's team basically said that Manafort lied to investigators about several things.

Ultimately, the judge in the D.C. case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, agreed with the government. Now, the max sentence for Manafort in D.C. - the max possible sentence is 10 years. The big question hanging over that is whether Judge Jackson is going to make him serve any sentence that she gives him concurrent or consecutive to the one here in Alexandria that he received today.

Now, Manafort's lawyer, Kevin downing, brought up that issue in court here today. Judge T.S. Ellis said ultimately that decision rests with the court in Washington, D.C.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Ryan Lucas speaking to us about Paul Manafort's sentencing, Paul Manafort getting 47 months in prison for his crimes. Ryan, thanks so much.

LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.