Paul Manafort barely had time to let his latest prison sentence sink in before news broke that he's facing yet more legal trouble. This time the threat is from prosecutors in New York, who charged him with multiple felony counts relating to financial fraud.
The charges were announced in an emailed press release by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance moments after a judge in Washington, D.C., sentenced Manafort for a completely separate series of crimes.
If convicted over the charges brought in New York State, Manafort could not be saved by a pardon from his former boss, President Trump, because state crimes are immune from presidential pardon.
According to the statement, the new charges include:
- Residential Mortgage Fraud in the First Degree, a class B felony, 3 counts
- Attempted Residential Mortgage Fraud in the First Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
- Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts
- Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, 8 counts
- Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
“No one is beyond the law in New York,” Vance said in the statement. “Following an investigation commenced by our Office in March 2017, a Manhattan grand jury has charged Mr. Manafort with state criminal violations which strike at the heart of New York’s sovereign interests, including the integrity of our residential mortgage market.”
Manafort had just received his second of two prison sentences, which will put him behind bars for more than seven years, when Vance issued his statement.
The new charges could pile pressure onto Manafort to seek a return to cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been probing Trump’s relationship with Russia, said Seth Waxman, a former prosecutor based in Washington D.C.
Mueller had blasted Manafort for continuing to lie about his conversations at the height of the 2016 campaign with a man assessed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence named Konstantin Kilimnik. Manafort has denied lying, blaming faulty memory and depression for any inconsistencies.
“The New York DA just did Mueller a solid,” Waxman wrote in an email to VICE News. “My prediction that Manafort will come back on board with Mueller just got a little bit more real.”
The 16 new criminal counts relate to real estate transactions in New York. The Manhattan District Attorney accused Manafort of lying to take out mortgage loans during a period stretching from roughly 2015 to early 2017.
Manafort was also hit with charges relating to keeping false business records, a separate crime in New York State.
Manafort’s real estate practices had already featured heavily in his trial in Alexandria, Virginia last summer. Mueller’s prosecutors accused Manafort of lying to banks about his creditworthiness in order to receive $25 million in loans.
The top line charge in Manafort’s new indictment, first-degree residential mortgage fraud, carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
Cover: Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, departs Federal District Court, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)