The Feds charged Paul Manafort with 32 counts of tax fraud and other financial crimes. After a jury trial Manafort was only convicted of 8 counts. The sentencing guidelines called for 20-25 years. The Judge threw out the Guidelines and gave Manafort 4 years, which is not unusual for such a case. There are plenty of cases of guys with similar sentences for similar charges. The problem is not with the Sentencing Guidelines. The problem is with “prosecutorial discretion” which allows the United States Attorney to bring as many charges as he wants for the same crime. The Prosecutor can pile on the charges knowing full well that it puts pressure on the Defendant to cut a deal.
Suppose you get in a bar fight and you punch a guy out. The cops can charge you with simple assault, which is a misdemeanor. Or the cops can charge you with assault, breach of peace, creating a public disturbance, resisting arrest and interfering with a police investigation. The same thing was done with Manafort. The United States Prosecutors could have brought one charge, five charges, ten charges or fifty charges against Manafort. Every time Manafort wired money he could have been charged with a separate crime. It’s a big joke and every Prosecutor knows it. The Sentencing Guidelines are meaningless.
Manafort was an attorney who graduated Georgetown Law School, a highly ranked law school, unlike low ranked Cooley Law School, where Trump’s rat Michael Cohen graduated. Manafort’s wife and daughter also graduated from Georgetown Law School. Manafort’s daughter Andrea is general counsel for a DC based hedge fund.
At sentencing a character letter was submitted by Paul Manafort’s wife’s cousin Jeff Richards. Jeff wrote: “I am a confirmed, lifelong Democrat. Paul is no demonic villain, certainly no traitor, a cover like the Atlantic Monthly’s “Plot Against America” is ridiculous. During Paul’s house arrest he took up gourmet cooking, despite two ankle bracelets. During solitary confinement he did his best to retain a positive outlook. I was amazed to hear that in a phone call with him. Paul is no violent criminal.”
A character letter was submitted by Paul’s younger brother Dennis Manafort: “My father and mother brought us up with old-fashioned Italian family values, we went to Church every Sunday and holy days. My middle brother Bob died of cancer at 35, it was devastating. Paul always was there for me, especially after my divorce, he never gave up on me when I ended up being addicted to drugs. My brother was by my side at my darkest hour. He helped me put my life back together. If it wasn’t for Paul I would be just another statistic.”
The Prosecutors wanted to send Manafort away for effectively a life sentence. To sentence a 69 year old guy to 20 years in jail is cruel and inhumane. In some European countries elderly defendants are not allowed to be locked up.
Manafort’s attorneys provided a list of defendants who got sentences under five years for similar cases as Manafort. The Prosecutor objected on the grounds that in those cases the defendants either cooperated or paid millions back in fines. In other words, the only way the Feds will let you out of jail is if you pay them millions of dollars. US Attorney Andrew Weissman argued: “The overwhelming majority of these cases involved guilty pleas, others, including several in this district, involved defendants who provided full cooperation and received credit for that cooperation and / or involved significant fines that were paid at or around the time of sentencing.” The fact that Manafort didn’t plead guilty and exercised his Constitutional right to a jury trial was used against him by Attorney Weissman.
The Department of Injustice is no different than any other governmental agency. They want to increase their budgets and pad their pockets. The monies received by the Department of Injustice in criminal forfeiture proceedings do not go into the general fund that would be used to reduce your taxes. The money goes into their own budgets, which is used to underwrite their well compensated and well connected Ivy League graduates, who end up going into politics or Wall Street for even more lucrative deals. The Feds, as well as many State prosecutor’s offices, have been subjected to much criticism for aggressive “collection activities” not to mention criticism of their mass incarceration policies. But if you ask these attorneys at the Dept of Justice, future Congressmen and masters of the universe, they will tell you that you don’t understand how things work. Yale-splain. Don’t ask too many questions or you will be the next to be indicted and locked up in Otisville Federal Prison.
The Feds could care less about the victims of crime when they aggressively prosecute a case. In my mortgage fraud case the Feds went after straw buyers, realtors, mortgage brokers and closing attorneys after the housing crash of 2008. Indictments piled up in the State of Connecticut. Half the people indicted were closing lawyers. Lawyers are always an easy target for the Feds. Lawyers make the headlines. In my case the Feds collected millions in asset forfeitures, yet none of that money was used to pay off the banks or insurance companies who insured the banks against losses related to the real estate crash. The Feds are currently collecting restitution payments from all the dirt poor individual defendants who just got released from Federal prison. Each defendant have been making monthly payments of a few hundred a month. Some defendants haven’t been paying a dime. These restitution payments won’t even come close to the millions that the Feds already collected, that went into the coffers of the United States Department of Injustice.
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