New York state’s highest court has rejected an effort to prosecute Paul Manafort, the one-time campaign chairman for former president Donald Trump.
The decision by the Court of Appeals ends Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s attempt to pursue Manafort on 16 felony charges, including mortgage fraud.
The crimes alleged were similar to those for which Manafort had been convicted in federal court and pardoned by Mr Trump.
Mr Vance had been appealing a 4-0 ruling in October by an intermediate-level state appeals court that prosecuting Manafort violated state double jeopardy laws or trying someone twice for the same conduct.
A spokesman for Mr Vance on Monday declined to comment on the Court of Appeals’ February 4 order, which let stand the indictment’s dismissal.
Manafort’s lawyer Todd Blanche said he was pleased.
“This is a case that should never have been brought because the dismissed indictment is a clear violation of New York law,” he said.
Manafort worked on Mr Trump’s White House campaign for five months in 2016.
Mr Vance announced Manafort’s indictment in March 2019, less than an hour after a judge sentenced him to seven-and-a-half years in prison on federal tax evasion and bank fraud charges.
The federal case stemmed from former US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Mr Trump pardoned Manafort on December 23, seven months after he was released to home confinement.
Manafort’s lawyers had said he faced health risks, including from possibly contracting the coronavirus, in prison.
US presidents cannot pardon people for state crimes.
Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser pardoned after he was charged by federal prosecutors with defrauding donours in a border wall project, is reportedly being investigated by Mr Vance over his role in that project.
Mr Bannon had pleaded not guilty in the federal case but double jeopardy may not apply because he was never tried.