Manafort charged in New York with mortgage fraud and other state crimes

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office on Wednesday unsealed an indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, shortly after he was sentenced in a case in a federal court in D.C.

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According to the indictment, Manafort was charged with a total of 16 counts in the state of New York, including residential mortgage fraud and other state crimes, and if convicted on all charges could face between just over eight years and 25 years in prison, according to New York state law. The indictment was returned by a grand jury in Manhattan last week but announced on Wednesday moments after Manafort was sentenced to 73 months of imprisonment for illegal foreign lobbying and witness tampering in his D.C. case.

He faces a total of 81 months between both the D.C. case and the Virginia case.

In November, Trump told the New York Post that though a pardon for Manafort had never been discussed, he “wouldn’t take it off the table.” With the New York District Attorney’s charges, even if President Trump pardons Manafort, he still faces a criminal case on the new state charges. Mortgage fraud is not a crime under federal law and therefore there is no double jeopardy issue.

PHOTO: Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, exits the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty Images, FILE
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, exits the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington, DC.

As part of an effort to ensure Manafort’s prosecution in New York, state Sen. Todd Kaminsky Wednesday afternoon called for a bill to close the state’s “double jeopardy loophole,” which exempts convicted criminals pardoned by the president from State prosecution for the same crime.

In addition to the residential mortgage fraud charges, Manafort also faces charges in Manhattan of attempted fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records and scheming to defraud. Broadly, Manafort is accused of lying on mortgage applications to secure a loan in the millions of dollars for some properties on Howard Street in Manhattan, Union Street in Brooklyn and a property in Bridgehampton.

According to the indictment, the alleged crimes were committed between December 2015 and January 2017.

In one instance, Manafort is accused of deceiving an appraiser by pretending to be living in a condo that he was using to take out loans, according to the indictment.

“The appraiser for Howard St is calling to make an appointment to view the condo,” Manafort allegedly wrote in an email cited in the indictment. “Could you please call [Individual #2] to arrange a time for him to access the apartment. Remember, he believes that you and [Individual #3] are living there.”

During a trial in a separate foreign lobbying and financial crimes case in Virginia brought by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, prosecutors accused Manafort, who is a longtime New York Yankees season tickets holder, of jeopardizing millions of loans he sought by putting big charges on the American Express card for the season tickets. Mueller’s prosecutors also accused Manafort of using money wired from his offshore bank account to purchase some of the tickets.

In the New York indictment, Manafort allegedly asked an unidentified person to sign a letter saying, “Thank you for allowing me to use the AMEX Business Plum card to purchase season tickets for the 2016 baseball season.”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation began in March 2017 but was shelved in deference to the special counsel, according to a source familiar with the matter. The case was revived recently as Manafort’s legal odyssey with Mueller neared a conclusion.

“No one is beyond the law in New York,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a 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.”

President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he feels “very badly” for Manafort but said that he hasn’t given any thought to offering him a pardon.

“I have not even given it a thought as of this moment,” Trump said. “It’s not something that’s right now on my mind. I do feel badly for Paul Manafort that I can tell you.”

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