Court of Appeals: Manafort not subject to jurisdiction in New York after Trump’s pardon

Court dismisses Paul Manafort’s case

The New York State Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal of Manhattan Attorney Cyrus Vance, who insisted that he had the right to prosecute Paul Manafort for crimes against the state.

Donald Trump’s former adviser and campaign chief, Paul Manafort, has been convicted twice by two federal courts, in Virginia and the District of Columbia, but not for collusion with the Kremlin. Special Prosecutor Mueller used his broadest mandate to investigate cases that are not directly related to Russia. He instructed his investigators to scrutinize Manafort’s finances, sought assistance from the Treasury and the Treasury Department for Financial Crimes, and summoned his tax accountants and bank clerks who handled his accounts to testify. From New York, he requested a Manafort real estate fraud case.

Müller hoped to get Manafort to confess in the Kremlin case and made a pre-trial deal with him. However, in November 2018, the special prosecutor notified the judicial authorities that Manafort had violated the terms of the agreement, gave false and incomplete testimony, and therefore the deal was terminated and Manafort was being tried on charges of financial crimes and money laundering.

In March 2019, a Virginia court found him guilty of eight of 18 counts of tax and bank fraud and withholding of his income in overseas accounts and sentenced him to 47 months in prison minus 9 months already served in pre-trial detention. Manafort was also ordered to pay a $ 50,000 fine and compensation of almost $ 25 million, including $ 6 million in tax arrears.

In the District of Columbia, he was tried for laundering undeclared proceeds (these were fees received for advising Viktor Yanukovych and the Ukrainian Party of Regions), illegal lobbying, perjury and inducement to perjury. He was sentenced in the same March 2019 to 43 months in prison. Excluding pre-trial detention, the total term was seven and a half years.

In May 2020, Manafort was released from prison under house arrest due to the threat of coronavirus infection, and on Christmas Day President Trump pardoned him.

Attorney Vance indicted Manafort minutes after he was sentenced to a second federal conviction. Both Vance himself and legal experts viewed the new case as a guarantee in the event of a presidential pardon, because the president has no right to pardon for crimes committed against the state.

The New York case looked pretty convincing. Manafort was accused of fraudulent property loans. These deals were one of the ways to hide income. The shell company bought an expensive apartment with Ukrainian money from offshore companies, paying its full cost immediately, and then sold it to Manafort, but already on credit. Manafort took a loan to buy an apartment from an American bank and thus legalized his left-wing earnings. One such acquisition was an apartment in New York’s Trump Tower. He bought two more in the same way in Soho and Brooklyn. This scheme is very popular among the owners of “dirty” money, and Trump’s company is famous for its indulgence in their origin.

However, arrogance played a cruel joke on Vance. At the request of Manafort’s lawyers, first a New York City court and then the State Supreme Court – this second decision was made last December – ruled that Manafort should not be prosecuted again as he had already been tried for the same crimes in federal courts. … And re-prosecution – double jeopardy – is prohibited by state law.

In October 2019, the New York Legislature passed legislation introduced by Democratic Senator Todd Kaminski, which allows for secondary trials under certain conditions, but the law is not retroactive and therefore cannot be applied to crimes committed before the law came into force.

In vain, Vance’s representatives tried to convince the court that in federal courts and in New York Manafort was charged with “different aspects” of the same actions. The court did not find sufficient grounds to initiate a new criminal case and thus closed it.

The case against Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser and “chief strategist” of Trump, could save Cyrus Vance’s face. He has already been charged with embezzling funds raised to build a wall on the border with Mexico. According to the prosecutor, Bannon and three of his accomplices withdrew funds from the fund, laundered them through offshore companies and shell companies, and spent them on their own needs. Bannon received over a million dollars in this way.

Like Manafort, Bannon is pardoned by the president. But unlike Manafort, no one has tried him yet, and therefore the rule on repeated prosecution does not work in his case.

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 8 of February 12, 2021

Newspaper headline: Undecided

Source: Все материалы – Московский Комсомолец by

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