Paul Manafort

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Manafort Wheeled Into Court; Sentencing Set For February

October 19, 2018 - 4:06 pm
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WCBS 880/AP) -- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was brought out of an Alexandria, Virginia jail for a hearing in federal court in a wheelchair Friday, as his attorneys say he is dealing with “significant health issues” because of his jail confinement.

At the hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III set a sentencing date of Feb. 8 for Manafort.

In August, a jury found Manafort guilty of eight of 18 counts in the Virginia case – five tax fraud charges, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud.

Prosecutors said Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign income from Ukraine. They also say he lied on loan applications to obtain millions more to maintain a lavish lifestyle.

In a separate case in Washington, D.C., Manafort pleaded guilty to charges related to his Ukrainian political consulting work.

Business Insider Politics and National Security Reporter Sonam Sheth said Manafort could get five to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced.

“Of course, depending on how much he cooperates with prosecutors and how much valuable information he gives them,” Sheth said.

Sheth told WCBS 880’s Joe Avellar and Michael Wallace that the need for a wheelchair was clear evidence of the toll that jail had taken on Manafort.

“Of course, this is a man who is nearly 70 years old, you know, potentially facing a very long jail sentence after a very stressful last year where he was going through these indictments from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, so it’s not surprising that this is having a negative impact on his health,” she said.

Avellar recalled the case of mob boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, of the Genovese crime family, who was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial in 1990 after he was seen wandering around Greenwich Village in pajamas and talking to himself. Gigante later admitted that he had pretended to be insane as a ploy to avoid being prosecuted.

Sheth said it is not likely that anything similar is involved with Manafort.

“It seems unlikely, given the level of cooperation that we’ve already seen from Manafort. We know that he has visited the special counsel’s office nine times in just the last month, often for six hours at a time, which is pretty substantial,” she said. “So if he was, you know, if this was a ploy, it’s unlikely that he would be cooperating to the degree that he has with the special counsel.”

As to what will be involved as Manafort cooperates with prosecutors, Sheth said it is not yet clear.

“What we do know is that when the plea deal was first announced last month, prosecutors said that Manafort would be cooperating on any and all issues that the government deemed relevant, so that included the Russia investigation, the Trump campaign, and any other investigations he could have had information about. We also know that prosecutors had been asking Manafort for information about Roger Stone, who is the longtime GOP strategist who also served as an informal adviser to the Trump campaign,” she said.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)