Lobbyist Gets Probation in Case Tied to Mueller Probe

W. Samuel Patten leaves the federal court in Washington on Aug. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge on Friday sentenced a political consultant to three years of probation after he pleaded guilty to lobbying for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party without registering with the U.S. government.

Samuel Patten, 47, was prepared to testify at the Washington, D.C., trial of Paul Manafort before the former Trump campaign chair pleaded guilty to the charges against him in September.

In addition to the three years of probation, Patten will also pay a $5,000 fine and complete 500 hours of “hands-on” community service work as part of his sentence.

Patten pleaded guilty in August, admitting he did public relations and lobbying work for the Opposition Bloc, the same pro-Russian political party that worked with Manafort. Patten contacted members of Congress, set up meetings with lawmakers and staff and wrote opinion pieces on behalf of the party, all without registering with the federal government.

Patten also helped a Ukrainian national buy tickets to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, routing the tickets through straw purchasers to skirt prohibitions on foreign money going into inauguration coffers. 

Prosecutors had urged a light sentence for Patten, considering the “substantial assistance” he provided to the government both before and after his guilty plea. All told, Patten met nine times with government investigators to lend his expertise to cases they were pursuing.

Wearing a black suit and blue shirt, Patten told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Friday that he appreciates the severity of his conduct and has accepted responsibility for his crimes.

“I behaved as though the law didn’t apply to me and that was wrong,” Patten said in court.

Patten, his black hair flecked with gray, stood stoically at the podium as Jackson handed down his sentence.

Jackson said Patten’s failure to disclose that the work he was doing was being funded by the Opposition Bloc was serious, because it hampered the ability of the public and of Congress to understand the slant of the information he was putting out.

But the judge distinguished Patten’s conduct from other cases she has overseen that concern similar conduct, most notably Manafort’s. She said Manafort’s violations were more far-reaching and that he did not show the same acceptance of responsibility that Patten did.

Jackson particularly credited Patten for quickly accepting his crimes and for his willingness to work with the government.

“You didn’t try to justify them and you didn’t try to blame them on anyone else,” Jackson said.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office started the investigation into Patten’s conduct, but Washington, D.C., federal prosecutors took over the case.

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