U.S. District T.S. Ellis III. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/ ALM

Federal prosecutors suggested Paul Manafort should be sentenced up to 24 years in prison for bank and tax fraud charges, according to a new filing Friday in Virginia federal court that revealed for the first time the special counsel’s views on how the former Trump campaign chairman should be punished.

Manafort was convicted at trial in August on financial-crime allegations that included hiding money in overseas bank accounts, duping banks on loan requests and failing to pay certain taxes. The jury in the Eastern District of Virginia acquitted Manafort on 10 counts.

While prosecutors did not make a specific sentencing recommendation, they agreed with specific sentencing guidelines tied to Manafort’s offense level, which was determined in a pre-sentence investigation. Prosecutors said a sentence of 19.5 years to 24.5 years is appropriate, according to Friday’s filing.

“For a decade, Manafort repeatedly violated the law. Considering only the crimes charged in this district, they make plain that Manafort chose to engage in a sophisticated scheme to hide millions of dollars from United States authorities,” prosecutors said in their sentencing memo.

Prosecutors said in their sentencing memo:

“Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship. He was well educated, professionally successful, and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources. Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled.”

Manafort’s defense lawyers have not yet filed their sentencing memo. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia vacated a February sentencing and hasn’t set a new hearing date. Ellis, ultimately, will decide Manafort’s fate.

The trial verdict in Virginia was the first for Special Counsel Robert Mueller III in his office’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. So far, Manafort has been the only defendant in a Mueller case to choose going to trial over a plea agreement.

Any prison sentence longer than 30 days would be the biggest given to a defendant in a case brought by the Mueller team.

Manafort’s punishment in Virginia won’t resolve all of the criminal charges against him.

In September, Manafort agreed to cooperate with authorities rather than proceed to a separate trial in Washington’s federal district court on charges tied to his unregistered lobbying work for Ukraine.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia this week concluded Manafort broke the terms of his plea deal by intentionally lying to Mueller and others. The breach has freed up prosecutors, who are no longer obligated to argue for a reduced prison term. Manafort is set for sentencing in Washington on March 13.

Manafort has been jailed for months, following Jackson’s determination that he violated the terms of his release.

Read the government’s sentencing memo here:


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