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Here Is What Paul Manafort Was Convicted of Doing

The former Trump campaign chairman faces four years in prison, and possibly 10 more, for lying to lenders and the U.S. government.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters / NewscomJonathan Ernst / Reuters / NewscomMuch of the outrage at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's four-year sentence on tax and bank fraud charges contrasts his relatively lenient treatment with the draconian punishments frequently imposed on less privileged defendants. That disparity is real, although the main lesson that should be drawn from it, as C.J. Ciaramella suggested the other day, is that our criminal justice system as a whole is excessively, mindlessly punitive, often in cases involving conduct, such as exchanging drugs for money, that not only is less serious than what Manafort did but should not be treated as a crime at all. The question of whether Manafort's sentence was appropriate in light of his offenses is distinct from that broader problem, and the answer depends on how you view the moral gravity of his crimes.

While many critics of the sentence are claiming Manafort "stole $30 million," that figure refers to income he hid from the Internal Revenue Service. The loss to the U.S. Treasury was the taxes he owed but did not pay, which according to federal prosecutors amounted to $6 million. In the process of avoiding that tax bill, Manafort did a bunch of things, such as filing false tax returns and failing to report foreign bank accounts, each of which corresponds to a separate charge. Six of the eight counts on which a jury convicted Manafort relate to those tax-dodging actions: filing false tax returns for the years 2010 through 2014 (five counts) and failing to report foreign bank accounts in 2012 (one count).

Manafort also was convicted of bank fraud related to loans he sought under false pretenses from two lenders. Prosecutors said those loans entailed a "fraud loss" of $6 million. But as Manafort's lawyers noted in their sentencing memorandum, $5.5 million of that figure is attributed to a loan that was never completed. In other words, the $6 million is mostly notional, based on an "intended loss" rather than money that actually changed hands. Assuming that the balance was loaned and never repaid, you could say Manafort stole $500,000, although according to his lawyers "all of the loans at issue in this case were performing under the terms of the relevant loan agreements until the Special Counsel's Office initiated the prosecutions of Mr. Manafort and brought forfeiture allegations, which resulted in over $2 million in cash being frozen."

Knowingly filing a false tax return is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison, and Manafort was convicted of doing that five times. Willfully failing to report a foreign bank account is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and Manafort was convicted of one count. Bank fraud is a felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and Manafort was convicted of two counts. You can start to see how the punishment recommended by federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account factors such the defendant's role in the offense, his prior criminal record, and the amount of money involved, was 235 to 293 months, or about 19.5 to 24 years.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, who described Manafort's tax evasion as "a theft of money from everyone who pays taxes," nevertheless deemed the recommended sentencing range "excessive" in light of the penalties received by defendants in similar cases. He suggested that anyone who thought four years was inadequate should "go and spend a day, a week in jail or in the federal penitentiary. He has to spend 47 months." While it's true that four years in federal prison is hardly a slap on the wrist, it would be nice if the legislators who enact mandatory minimum sentences that range from five years to life (none of which applied in this case) showed a similar awareness.

"Given the age and the health of this defendant, this is the kind of sentence that you can generally expect in a white-collar prosecution," a former federal prosecutor told The Washington Post. "The sentencing guidelines and the request by the government for 19 to 24 years was something the judge was never going to seriously entertain, and I think what we saw here was a recognition that even this sentence could well be a life sentence for Mr. Manafort."

Manafort, who is 69, will soon be sentenced in a separate case in which he pleaded guilty to witness tampering and a conspiracy against the U.S. government involving tax fraud, money laundering, failure to report foreign bank accounts, failure to register as a foreign agent, and lying to the Justice Department. The recommended range in that case, which involves some of the same underlying conduct as the case in which he has already been sentenced, is 188 to 235 months, or nearly 16 to almost 20 years. But the statutory maximum for those counts is five years each, meaning his sentence could be as long as 10 additional years.

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  • Brian||

    How many years did he get for TREASON?

  • FlameCCT||

    Zero
    Zilch
    NADA

  • Sigivald||

    Zero, because he didn't commit it, wasn't tried for it, and wasn't convicted of it.

    "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

    "Icky stuff I don't like and haven't specified" is not "levying war against" or "adhering to [the] Enemies [of]" the United States.

    Unless you've got some evidence that he joined ISIS or something like that?

  • ImanAzol||

    No, Demorrhoids join ISIS.

  • ImanAzol||

    "filing false tax returns for the years 2010 through 2014 (five counts) and failing to report foreign bank accounts in 2012 (one count)."

    Sorry, what the fuck does this have to do with Trump or Russia?

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Thanks for clearing this up. I remember trying to figure out exactly what he was convicted of. Every article I read seemed to imply that he was convicted of interfering with a Ukranian election in exchange for kickbacks, plus even more wild claims that he was a direct stooge for Putin interfering in US elections. Yet I couldn't find the charges connected to those claims.

    Dude's a crook, for sure, though.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    I thought taxation was theft?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Six of the eight counts on which a jury convicted Manafort relate to those tax-dodging actions: filing false tax returns for the years 2010 through 2014 (five counts) and failing to report foreign bank accounts in 2012 (one count)."

    One of the reasons why sales taxes are profoundly more libertarian than income taxes (there are many) is that requiring every individual American to account for every penny they earn under the threat of criminal prosecution--with total accuracy--is authoritarian and immoral.

    Again, a right is a choice, a crime is violating someone's right to make a choice, and no one's rights are violated when someone doesn't offer up an accurate accounting of their income. If marijuana and prostitution are victimless "crimes", then, for goodness' sake, what is earning a paycheck?

  • mtrueman||

    "requiring every individual American to account for every penny they earn under the threat of criminal prosecution--with total accuracy--is authoritarian and immoral."

    But doing it for every penny they spend is libertarian and moral. Pull the other one, Ken Shultz.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Are you drunk?

    Do you not live in a state with a sales tax?

    In California, we don't have to account for every penny we spend because of the sales tax.

    Why do you just make shit up like that--and then pretend simple concepts are too hard for you to understand? Is it because of childhood trauma or something?

  • mtrueman||

    "we don't have to account for every penny we spend because of the sales tax."

    Someone else is accounting for it. Is that what makes it libertarian and moral?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yes, not having to account for anything and without any threat of prosecution because of a sales tax is more libertarian than having to account for every penny we earn under threat of criminal prosecution with an income tax.

    . . . and I guess this is the part where you pretend that's just too confusing to understand?

    Seek psychiatric assistance.

  • Zeb||

    No, no one is accounting for every penny you spend with sales tax. The money spent is accounted for, but not who spends it. It avoids the massive invasion of privacy and opportunities for mistakes or cheating that an income tax requires.

  • Sevo||

    You're heading down the rabbit hole, engaging trueman. For some reason only he and his mom understand, he presumes to present 'facts' (for which no evidence is provided), surrounded by sophomoric pronouncements which he hopes are mistaken for profundities.

  • mtrueman||

    "No, no one is accounting for every penny you spend with sales tax. The money spent is accounted for, but not who spends it. It avoids the massive invasion of privacy"

    I see your point. Enjoy your spending privacy while you can. Beloved Uber certainly keeps track of every penny you spend with them, unlike those old fashioned non-disrupting taxi companies. And presumably the credit card companies have been keeping track of your spending since they set up shop.

    Independent contractors have been enjoying private undeclared income for years. They may charge a customer a certain amount and declare only a fraction of it. I thought this was common practice to avoid onerous taxation. I hope I've not spilled any trade secrets here.

  • Cyto||

    Yes! You are absolutely correct. Some people use Uber, therefore sales taxes are completely intrusive.

    And some people work under the table. Therefore income taxes are completely annonymous and. unintrusive.

  • mtrueman||

    "Yes! You are absolutely correct. Some people use Uber, therefore sales taxes are completely intrusive."

    Government skimming off a percent every time you make an exchange on the market is more than intrusive, it's the business model of the mafia. There are ways of preserving anonymity but it will take more and more effort and expertise to do so. I don't see crypo-currency having much of a future what with the enormous amount of power they must consume. Money is based on faith and trust in the end, and so far we haven't been able to automate faith, or trust.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>the answer depends on how you view the moral gravity of his crimes.

    crimes. fraud is a good pitch + lack of diligence

    >>>Knowingly filing a false tax return is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison

    ridiculous. repeal the 16th.

  • Crusty Juggler - Lawbertarian||

    He didn't do anything that Lanny Davis hasn't done, and his conviction is an obvious conspiracy by the DEEP STATE out to get Trump.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Glad to see someone is bringing back the Lawbertarian label.

  • Crusty Juggler - Lawbertarian||

    I'm the hero you need but don't deserve.

  • Obama ate a dog||

    You're a fucking bore we have to endure.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Russian meddling!

  • Ken Shultz||

    I appreciate Sullum's intellectual honesty and his explanation for why a reasonable judge might have imposed this sentence. However, the outrage over Manafort's sentencing is actually driven by the left's hope to make Trump guilty by association with Manafort. They wanted to make Manafort Trump's whipping boy and the judge didn't play along.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Off-topic — Another fantastic piece by Reason contributor Noah Berlatsky.

    Let 16-year-olds vote

    My son follows the news closely; he watches John Oliver every week. He's angry that his parents' and grandparents' generations have left him with a rapidly warming and unlivable world. He's joined in demonstrations against gun violence. At his school he was involved in student-led efforts to change the name of Columbus Day and to promote trans rights. He thinks President Donald Trump is, as he puts it, "a racist, sexist homophobe."

    Read the whole thing. I promise it's worth it.

    #BringBackBerlatsky
    #LibertariansForLoweringTheVotingAge

  • Ecoli||

    Fake news. Clinton News Network.

    My dogs should be able to vote. They have a keen sense of property rights, and they are homophilic.

  • ||

    They sound like Britschgi's reasons for lowering the voting age. Why would Reason be so stupid as to publish the exact same content more than once?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Actually, one of the things I like about Reason is the way it relentlessly drives home the really important points. We need at least a few articles every week advocating a lower voting age.

  • ImanAzol||

    As long as have equal time for raising the voting age to 35, and applying it to land owners or net tax payers only.

    Urban parasites are not people.

  • ImanAzol||

    As long as have equal time for raising the voting age to 35, and applying it to land owners or net tax payers only.

    Urban parasites are not people.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm curious, if his kid disagreed with him would he have such an encouraging view?

    That being said, I don't have any strong philosophical issues here. The biggest being, 16 should also be the age of majority at that point as well. Make them legally adults for every other things.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Wait a minute. Are you saying 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to legally purchase cigarettes?!

    Sorry, I cannot agree with that.

  • BYODB||

    Everyone knows kids are perfectly able to determine how force should be used by the government to implement socialism but it's a bridge too far to let them drink, smoke, or own guns unless those guns are provided by the government explicitly to kill other human beings in places that aren't here.

  • Zeb||

    You aren't a real person, so who cares?

  • Obama ate a dog||

    The correct answer.

  • FlameCCT||

    Does it hurt being that ignorant OBL?
    Or just normal for a Progressive serf?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Let them smoke, drink, have sex and buy guns at 16, and I'm 100% on board. Maybe even like 103.7% on board.

  • ||

    Let 16-year-olds vote

    Get back to us in 10 years when they are off their parent's group health plan. It's bad enough economically illiterate adults watch John Oliver, the last thing we need is someone whose primary source of income is an allowance and the tooth fairy to help craft economic policy.

  • JWatts||

    Wow! I thought it was another excellent OBL parody, but instead it's an actual quote from the leading paragraph of the story.

  • Zeb||

    Nah. Raise it to 30.

  • Nardz||

    "My son follows the news closely; he watches John Oliver every week."

    And the rest.

    In other words, his son is a progressive drone

  • Sevo||

    "U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, who described Manafort's tax evasion as "a theft of money from everyone who pays taxes,""

    A real laugh riot, right there.

  • ||

    A real laugh riot, right there.

    I'm not gonna lie, I LOLed.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    People (especially libertarians) should be offended by the judge's daft observation that Manafort 'led an otherwise blameless life,' not only because of the (1) lies to federal prosecutors and (2) other convictions (for which he is to be sentenced by another judge) but also consequent to the odious conduct and playmates that marked Mr. Manafort's work for hire for decades.

  • Sevo||

    If scumminess were illegal, asshole, you'd never get out of jail.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I doubt the judge is taking the "lying to federal prosecutors" charge too seriously, seeing as Mueller's tam "the federal prosecutors in question" were forced to get him to plead guilty to that--and making a potential witness plead guilty to lying is something a prosecutor does when his case is so weak.

    It's the same thing with Flynn pleading guilty to "lying to federal prosecutors". Flynn plead guilty to that in exchange for Mueller not persecuting his son, and if a judge didn't take that into consideration when he was sentencing Flynn, he wouldn't be doing his job.

    "Washington (CNN)Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has expressed concern about the potential legal exposure of his son, Michael Flynn Jr., who, like his father, is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.

    Flynn's concern could factor into decisions about how to respond to Mueller's ongoing investigation. The special counsel is looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign as well as the business dealings of key campaign advisers to President Donald Trump.

    Flynn's wife, Lori, shares his concerns about their son's possible legal exposure, according to a person who knows the family."

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/08/.....index.html

    When this is over, someone really should investigate Mueller.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    He lied and compounded the lies by breaching a cooperation agreement. No one forced him to promise to cooperate with authorities.

    If you contend Americans should be more concerned by Mr. Mueller's conduct than by Mr. Manafort's, you should not expect reasoning adults to take you seriously.

  • Obama ate a dog||

    Oh yay process crimes again.

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|3.11.19 @ 2:39PM|#
    "He lied and compounded the lies by breaching a cooperation agreement. No one forced him to promise to cooperate with authorities."

    Yep, in the fantastic world in which asshole lives, the threat of being tossed in jail is not 'force'.
    Hey, asshole, try reading something other than Parade magazine.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "He lied and compounded the lies by breaching a cooperation agreement. No one forced him to promise to cooperate with authorities."

    Everything in this statement is absurd.

    1) He wasn't forced into pleading guilty--he plead guilty because he woke up one morning and realized it was the right thing to do? That's stupid. Stop being so stupid.

    Manafort plead guilty to lying and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation because they threatened to do worse to him if he didn't plead guilty and cooperate.

    2) I'd understand if you didn't RTFA, but did you read the comment you responded to? I didn't say he shouldn't have been sentenced for his crime. The question is whether his sentence was sufficiently harsh.

  • Ordinary Person||

    The story is the fact that Manafort was caught dead to rights and yet he couldn't tell the truth to save his own life. He can't tell the truth. Why does Manafort have to lie?

  • Sevo||

    "The story is the fact that Manafort was caught dead to rights and yet he couldn't tell the truth to save his own life. He can't tell the truth. Why does Manafort have to lie."

    WIH is that supposed to mean?

  • Ordinary Person||

    Manafort was caught red handed. Manafort was offered leniency in return for honest cooperation. Manafort could not tell the truth. What prevented Manafort from cooperatingly?

  • Sevo||

    Maybe he doesn't like extortion? Don't know and don't care.

  • Ordinary Person||

    You mean he doesn't like gifts. Manafort suffers because he chose to lie. Who profits from Manafort's dishonesty?

  • Obama ate a dog||

    It was stupid when Cicero did it too.

  • Sevo||

    Ordinary Person|3.11.19 @ 2:17PM|#
    "You mean he doesn't like gifts."'

    On top of being a serial liar yourself, you can't read?
    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Nardz||

    "Who profits from Manafort's dishonesty?"

    The progressive State

  • Tony||

    Who is the head of state again?

  • Sevo||

    Tony|3.11.19 @ 8:36PM|#
    "Who is the head of state again?"

    Not you, shitbag, and no, regardless of your lame attempt at innuendo, Trump benefits not at all.
    It is not surprising that your stupidity is such that you assume otherwise. You are one dumb piece of shit.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Manafort was offered leniency in return for cooperation. Honest? Or just reading whatever they put in front of him? I don't know, and neither do you.

  • Obama ate a dog||

    Shush he's emoting

  • Ordinary Person||

    If he didn't pay his federal taxes then he probably didn't pay his state taxes so I guess we'll be seeing more of this guy.

  • JWatts||

    Meh, why should any of us care. There are hundreds of tax evasion cases a year, a always a few large ones. At the point in time this guy is no longer politically active (and he's not) it's a dog bites man story.

  • Cyto||

    Except when Willie Nelson fails to pay 33 million dollars in taxes they write almost all of it off and he walks away without much in the way of legal consequences.( I remember that one distinctly because the IRS was coming after me for $440 that I did not owe that same year.)

    But when they are trying to get somebody to rollover on political opponent, they will continue piling charges on and looking for minor contradictions in statements so that they can give you effectively life in prison.

    Unless of course, you come up with the dirt they are looking for.

    That thought should give everyone pause.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Didn't Willie Nelson do some time? Too lazy to Google...

  • markm23||

    All you have to do is go to Willie's Wikipedia article. There was no criminal case and no jail time. He just took bad advice and trusted a worthless or crooked accountant. OTOH, the IRS initially assessed back taxes and penalties that would have taken decades to pay off. Then he hired a new lawyer and got it reduced to $6 million; a double album paid that.

  • Just Say'n||

    I understand this is a hard time for you, with your utterly insane conspiracy theory that you've clung to for two years falling apart, but just remember you're an idiot for believing it to begin with. The fault lies with your small brain and not anyone else.

  • Sevo||

    Ordinary Person|3.11.19 @ 2:14PM|#
    "If he didn't pay his federal taxes then he probably didn't pay his state taxes so I guess we'll be seeing more of this guy."

    You and that hag lost, loser. Grow up and get over it.

  • Vjklander||

    Sullum,
    You conveniently fail to note that Manafort was investigated in 2014 and the FBI concluded he did nothing wrong. It was only when he became associated with Trump that the Bolsheviks went after him like rabid dogs. The deep state is real and only civil war will cure it.

  • Cyto||

    Yeah, I was wondering if I had gotten confused about which one of these guys was previously investigated and cleared.

    The fact that these exact actions were previously investigated and no criminal activity was found should have been enough to create Reasonable Doubt.

    I am going to assume that he was using structures that tax attorneys told him were legal and allowed him to avoid taxable income. The tax code is so complex that you can ask two different IRS employees and get three different opinions.

    So I was kind of struck at the characterization of this tax issue as being worse than other crimes. If Federal prosecutors and FBI agents who are investigating Financial crimes can't figure out whether or not it is illegal, how are the rest of us supposed to figure that out?

  • markm23||

    He committed the ultimate crime: dissing the deep state.

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