US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison by a US judge for financial crimes uncovered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
US District Judge TS Ellis imposed the sentence of 47 months in prison on Manafort, 69, during the hearing in Alexandria, Virginia.
Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant, was found guilty last August by a jury of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.
While prosecutors had not recommended a specific sentence, they had cited federal sentencing guidelines that called for between 19 to 24 years in prison.
But Judge Ellis said the sentencing guidelines were excessive and would create “an unwarranted disparity” with other cases.
Judge Ellis also noted during the hearing that Manafort “is not before the court for any allegations that he, or anyone at his direction, colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.”
Manafort asked Judge Ellis for mercy and thanked him for conducting a fair trial.
He did not express remorse for his actions but talked about how the case has been difficult for him and his family.
Manafort, who opted not to testify during his trial, told the court that “to say I have been humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.”
He described his life as “professionally and financially in shambles.”
Manafort, with noticeably greyer hair than just months ago, was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair holding a cane, wearing a green prison jumpsuit emblazoned with the words “Alexandria inmate” on the back.
It was a far cry from his usual dapper appearance and stylish garb.
Usually the defendant expresses extreme remorse. All the reporting thus far suggests that Manafort has expressed no remorse and remains defiant. https://t.co/JoR4iCn7FE
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) March 7, 2019
He has been jailed leading up to his sentencing.
Manafort was convicted after prosecutors accused him of hiding from the US 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 $US15,000 ostrich-skin jacket.
Manafort faces sentencing in a separate case next Wednesday in Washington on two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty last September.
While he faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in the Washington case, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson potentially could stack that on top of the sentence imposed in the Virginia case, rather than allowing the sentences to run concurrently.
In a final bid for sympathy, Paul Manafort has been wheeled into his sentencing hearing in a wheelchair. Apparently a hospital gurney was unavailable.
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) March 7, 2019
Manafort is the only one of the 34 people and three companies charged by Mueller to have gone to trial.
Several others including former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen have pleaded guilty, while longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty.
Mr Trump, who has called Mr Mueller’s investigation a politically motivated “witch hunt,” has not ruled out granting a presidential pardon to Manafort, saying in November that “I wouldn’t take it off the table.”
The crimes for which Manafort was convicted did not directly relate to the 2016 election.
Manafort worked for Mr Trump’s campaign for five pivotal months in 2016 that included the Republican National Convention where Mr Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, three of them as campaign chairman.