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March 7, 2019

Any bold predictions for Paul Manafort's (first) sentencing hearing?

As reported in this Reuters piece, "President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will be sentenced by a U.S. judge in Virginia on Thursday for bank and tax fraud uncovered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election."  Here is more reporting setting the basic context:

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis could deliver effectively a life sentence to Manafort, 69, if he follows federal sentencing guidelines cited by prosecutors that call for 19-1/2 to 24 years in prison for the eight charges the veteran Republican political consultant was convicted of by a jury in Alexandria last August. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m....

Manafort was convicted after prosecutors accused him of hiding from the U.S. government millions of dollars he earned as a consultant for Ukraine’s former pro-Russia government. After pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster, prosecutors said, Manafort lied to banks to secure loans and maintain an opulent lifestyle with luxurious homes, designer suits and even a $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket.

Manafort faces sentencing in a separate case in Washington on March 13 on two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty last September. While he faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in the Washington case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson potentially could stack that on top of whatever prison time Ellis imposes in Virginia, rather than allowing the sentences to run concurrently. Jackson on Feb. 13 ruled that Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with 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. Jackson’s ruling could impact the severity of his sentence in both cases....

Mueller’s charges led to the stunning downfall of Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican Party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such international figures as former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and Yanukovych.

Defense lawyers have asked Ellis to sentence Manafort to between 4-1/4 and 5-1/4 years in prison. They are expected to tell the judge Manafort is remorseful and that the sentencing guidelines cited by prosecutors call for a prison term disproportionate to the offenses he committed. “The Special Counsel’s attempt to vilify Mr. Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this court,” his lawyers wrote in their sentencing memo.

Prosecutors have not suggested a specific sentence. Mueller’s office, in court filings, said that only Manafort is to blame for his crimes, that he has shown no remorse and that his lies to prosecutors after his guilty plea should be taken into account. “The defendant blames everyone from the Special Counsel’s Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices,” prosecutors wrote.

Manafort will be sentenced by a judge who faced criticism by some in the legal community for making comments during the trial that were widely interpreted as biased against the prosecution. Ellis repeatedly interrupted prosecutors, told them to stop using the word “oligarch” to describe people associated with Manafort because it made him seem “despicable,” and objected to pictures of Manafort’s luxury items they planned to show jurors. “It isn’t a crime to have a lot of money and be profligate in your spending,” Ellis told prosecutors.

In my very first post on this case back in October 2017 right after Paul Manafort was indicted, I noted the guideline calculations that would likely mean he was going to be facing at least 10 years of imprisonment if he were convicted of any of the most serious charges against him.  Now, roughly a year and half later, I am tempted to set the "over-under" prediction on his sentence slightly below 10 years.  Though it is hardly a bold prediction, I will here predict that Judge Ellis will impose a sentence somewhere around 100 months.  

Anyone else have predictions or prescriptions for today's high-profile federal sentencing?

Some prior related posts:

March 7, 2019 at 08:15 AM | Permalink


6-9 yrs of all the fun and relaxation he can ever hope to swim in.

But the $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket, might have to do an additional 5 for that.

Hes a goner thats one sure thing....At age 69 and his easy plush life style, its gonna be horrific for him.. How can anyone expect to rip off the federal govnt and get away with it scott free... At age 69 and level if ecucation wouldnt ya think he would be smarter..

Maybe he can bump into Madoff at the Fed transfer center sometime, they can exchange hardy har hars and swap slices of pizza (if they have any)...

ok....He will get 12-15 yrs, thats short, but is really life like Doug indicates.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Mar 7, 2019 8:41:09 AM

My prediction is that Paul Manafort will receive a prison sentence in the range of 121 to 151 months in prison. Notably, in the Federal BOP, those with sentences of longer than 10 years do not qualify to be placed in Camps, the lowest security level, so at least initially, Mr. Manafort would go to at least an Low Security prison, such as is found in Butner, North Carolina. Bernie Madoff is serving his time at FCI - Butner, a medium security prison across the street from the Low. It is unlikely the Manafort and Madoff would ever encounter one another at the Federal Transit Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, since Madoff has not been moved anywhere since beginning his sentence of 150 years at FCI - Butner years ago now. That could change if Manafort receives a consecutive sentence later in March 2019, at his second sentencing hearing. Then Manafort and Madoff could end up serving time together at FCI - Butner.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Mar 7, 2019 9:21:10 AM

Something near 20 years. While no longer binding, the guidelines are still an anchor for what is reasonable. And the non-guideline factors seem to balance out between aggravating and mitigating.

Posted by: tmm | Mar 7, 2019 10:54:45 AM

We were all way off on Paul Manafort's sentence. He got a gift from Judge Ellis. I hope he realizes how big a gift he got. I served 8 years in Federal prison for a lot less than he did, and all I ever got paid was about $30,000 of attorney's fees and expense reimbursements.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Mar 8, 2019 7:17:38 AM

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