Feds Want Light Sentence for Would-Be Manafort Witness

WASHINGTON (CN) – Prosecutors urged a federal judge Monday to go easy on the lobbyist who was prepared to testify against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort as part of a plea deal.

Samuel Patten, 47, faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 after admitting that he failed to register as a foreign agent while lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in the Ukraine.

Along with an unnamed Russian, Patten set up a company that took in more than $1 million between 2015 and 2017 for work on behalf of the Opposition Bloc, the same Ukranian political party that also hired Manafort. Patten’s work for the party included contacting members of Congress, setting up meetings with lawmakers and executive branch officials, and penning opinion pieces for the Opposition Bloc.

According to a 10-page sentencing memorandum filed Monday,

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’ office began the investigation into Patten, but federal prosecutors in Washington brought the charges.

Ahead of a sentencing hearing Friday, the government says “the substantial assistance [Patten] has provided to the government” should factor into his sentencing.

“In total, Patten has met with government investigators, in person or by phone, a total of nine separate times to answer numerous questions and explain various documents,” the memo states. “In all of these sessions, Patten has been honest and straightforward with government investigators.”

Patten started working with Mueller’s office “well before his guilty plea,” and was prepared to testify in Washington before Manafort pleaded guilty to the charges against him, rendering Patten’s testimony unnecessary.

Manafort entered that plea one month after a jury in Virginia convicted him of bank and tax fraud.

Like Manafort, Patten is believed to have been an associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, who is suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.

A sealed addendum to the sentencing memo details how Patten also helped the government on other criminal investigations.

In addition to his work with the Opposition Bloc, Patten helped an unnamed Ukrainian buy $50,000 worth of tickets to events at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, using a straw purchaser to hide the money’s origin because there are restrictions on foreign donations to inaugurations. Though Patten admitted to helping with the purchase, he was not charged for it.

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