Mueller Rebuffs Manafort Bid for Light Sentence in Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request for a lenient sentence in his Virginia tax-crimes case should go unheeded given his willingness to blame others for his misconduct, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office told a federal judge Tuesday night.

Paul Manafort walks with this wife, Kathleen Manafort, as they arrive at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., on March 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Citing alleged vilification by Mueller’s office, poor health, his age and his self-proclaimed secondary role in a vast network of bank and tax fraud, Manafort filed a memo last week in Alexandria federal court seeking a lighter sentence than the 19 to 24 years in prison recommended by prosecutors.

But Manafort’s filing was “replete with claims that are at odds with acceptance of responsibility” prosecutors wrote Tuesday.

“The defendant blames everyone from the Special Counsel’s Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices. Manafort suggests, for example, that but for the appointment of the Special Counsel’s Office, he would not have been charged in connection with hiding more than $55 million abroad, failing to pay more than $6 million in taxes and defrauding three financial institutions of more than $25 million,” the reply memo states.

The former Trump campaign chairman’s “lack of remorse” can only be matched by his failure to get the facts right too, prosecutors added.  

Manafort was being investigated by prosecutors in Alexandria and the criminal division of the Department of Justice long before Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, according to the memo.

Mueller’s office also disputed Manafort’s claim that he opened foreign accounts “at the behest of foreign clients.”

Prosecutors said there is no evidence to suggest a foreign client told him not to report the accounts on his tax returns, not to file foreign bank and financial account reports with the U.S. Treasury or to withhold millions of dollars in taxes.

“Those choices are his own and his efforts at misdirection are further proof that he has not accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct,” Mueller’s memo states.

The Special Counsel’s Office also cites Manafort’s broken plea deal for obstruction and conspiracy charges in Washington, D.C., saying he lied several times to prosecutors there.  

Mueller also asked U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III to reject Manafort’s argument that his diminishing health and age should be considered as a mitigating factor at sentencing.

The onetime lobbyist has claimed he is “in danger of losing his life” due to various medical conditions – including gout – but he has yet to submit a report from a medical practitioner or show why the Bureau of Prisons would be unable to attend to him in prison, the memo states.

Mueller’s office further states the former Trump campaign manager’s actions were “deliberate” and involved hidden assets in more than 30 international accounts spanning three countries.

“He not only took deliberate steps to make the offense difficult to detect, he succeeded in doing so over an extended period of time,” the filing states.

Manafort will be sentenced in Virginia on Thursday, followed by sentencing in Washington, D.C., on March 13.

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