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Former Trump Campaign Chief Manafort Sentenced To 47 Months In Prison


File photo of Paul Manafort, who was sentenced to 47 months in prison on bank- and tax-fraud charges.

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia -- Paul Manafort, who built a lucrative career consulting for Ukrainian politicians and later served as President Donald Trump's campaign chairman, has been sentenced to 47 months in prison.

The sentence, handed down on March 7 by U.S. Judge T.S. Ellis, followed Manafort’s conviction in August on bank- and tax-fraud charges, and was significantly less than what prosecutors had sought.

Manafort's case was the first to be brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and interactions between Russian officials and Trump associates.

But his conviction did not deal directly with questions of possible Russian interference.

Instead, it dealt with his efforts to hide millions in dollars he earned working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians and failing to pay U.S. taxes, utilizing more than 30 overseas bank accounts and shell companies.

Ellis made that point explicitly in comments before he sentenced Manafort, 69, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

"He's not here today for allegations that either he or the presidential campaign colluded with Russian government to interfere in the election," Ellis said.

Before the judge pronounced the sentence, Manafort, dressed in a green prison jumpsuit and seated in a wheelchair, told the court, "To say I've been humiliated and shamed would be a gross understatement."

"The last two years have been the most difficult my family and I have experienced," he said.

But he did not apologize, something Ellis also pointed out.

"I am surprised that I didn't hear you express regret for engaging in this wrongful conduct," he said.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for 19.5 to 24 years, but Ellis called such a term "excessive" as he handed down the much shorter sentence.

The sentence was also less than what Manafort's own defense lawyers asked for in their presentencing fillings. Ellis also ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine and pay $25 million in restitution.

The charges brought against Manafort predated his time with the Trump campaign.

For nearly a decade, Manafort worked for Ukraine's Party of Regions, whose main candidate was Viktor Yanukovych. Funded in part by wealthy and powerful Ukrainian oligarchs, Manafort’s political strategies helped resurrect Yanukovych's political career and propelled him to the presidency in 2010.

In 2014, however, Yanukovych was driven from office after months of massive street protests, and he fled to Russia.

Manafort’s work in Ukraine then dried up, forcing him, according to prosecutors, to resort to hiding his income in order to lower his tax burden and to get access to bank loans to continue his lavish lifestyle.

In 2016, Manafort joined Trump’s election campaign, and became chairman. In August of that year, however, he was fired from the campaign after revelations about the extent of the lobbying and consulting work he did for the Party of Regions.

For years, one of Manafort's closest co-workers in Ukraine was Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian man whom prosecutors have alleged has close ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

Federal prosecutors last year charged that Manafort, and Kilimnik, contacted potential witnesses in the criminal case against Manafort, and both were then charged with witness tampering. In June, a judge revoked Manafort’s bail, and ordered him confined to jail, where he’s been since.

Kilimnik is believed to be in Russia and is unlikely to ever face federal charges in the United States.

The sentence is the first of two that Manafort will receive this month.

Next week, a judge in Washington, D.C., federal court will sentence him for the two conspiracy charges, which each carry a maximum penalty of five years. Those charges include more serious allegations: acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukraine, money laundering, and witness tampering.

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    Mike Eckel

    Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent in Prague, where he reports on developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and money laundering. Before joining RFE/RL in 2015, he worked for the Associated Press in Moscow. He has also reported and edited for The Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera America, Voice of America, and the Vladivostok News.