Judge sets February 8 sentencing for Manafort

Minnie Murray
October 20, 2018

US prosecutors on Friday agreed to drop criminal charges against Paul Manafort that a jury deadlocked on earlier this year, as a federal judge set a February 8 date for Manafort's sentencing on charges of bank fraud and filing false tax returns.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to present his findings on the two core issues of the Trump-Russia probe, collusion and obstruction, "soon after the November midterm elections".

In August, Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud charges, which were brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in the 2016 election.

Before the trial, the government had estimated that Manafort would be sentenced to eight to 10 years in prison, based exclusively on the tax fraud charges in Virginia.

"There are significant issues about Mr. Manafort's health right now", defense attorney Kevin Downing told the judge.

Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Rosenstein said, "I have a solemn responsibility to make sure that cases like that are pursued and prosecuted, and I'm pleased the president has been supportive of that". "I will dismiss the deadlocked counts without prejudice", he said. Prosecutors, however, did not indicate Friday whether or not that estimate still stands, and ultimately the sentencing decision is up to the court.

Legal teams for Mueller and Manafort announced that they had negotiated a plea agreement in which Manafort would plead guilty to two of the charges against him in Washington, D.C.as well as the remaining ten charges from the first trial in Virginia.

Lawyers with the special-counsel probe agreed, saying they would accept a dismissal of the counts and prepare for sentencing as long as it remains possible to refile the charges in the future.

Prosecutors had wanted to delay Manafort's sentencing until his cooperation was complete, but Virginia Judge T.S. Ellis expressed concerns about the delay and scheduled a hearing for Friday afternoon. However, Judge Ellis maintained that this case will be treated no different than others before him. That report will help recommend a guideline range so that Judge Ellis can determine what sentence to impose.

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