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NY Judge Tosses Paul Manafort State Fraud Case, Citing Double Jeopardy, Setting Up Potential Federal Pardon

NY Judge Tosses Paul Manafort State Fraud Case, Citing Double Jeopardy, Setting Up Potential Federal Pardon

Manafort attorney: “We have said since the day this indictment was made public that it was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law.”

Here at LI, we have covered extensively President Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort.  Manafort, who is serving time in federal prison after being indicted by Robert Mueller, was also charged by New York state in an apparent effort to block a possible Trump pardon.

The effort has, so far, failed as a NY judge has tossed out the case, citing double jeopardy.

Fox News reports:

A New York judge has dismissed a state mortgage fraud indictment against Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, citing double jeopardy laws.

Manafort, 70, was previously sentenced in a pair of federal cases earlier this year as part of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Judge Maxwell Wiley ruled that state law precludes prosecution because the criminal case was too similar to that which landed Manafort in federal prison, writing that the factual overlap between the state and federal cases “is extensive — if not total.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said they would appeal the decision.

Citing the apparently political nature of the NY case against Manafort, his attorneys thanked the judge.

Fox News continues:

The 16-count New York indictment alleged Manafort gave false and misleading information in applying for residential mortgage loans, starting in 2015 and continuing until three days before Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

. . . . Following the ruling, Todd Blanche, Manafort’s attorney, said: “We have said since the day this indictment was made public that it was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law.

“We thank Judge Wiley for his careful consideration of our motion and his thoughtful opinion dismissing the charges against Mr. Manafort. This indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions.”

This ruling could clear the way for President Trump to pardon Manafort, who is currently in the hospital with a heart ailment.

Business Insider reports:

The New York ruling could clear the way for Trump to pardon Manafort since the former GOP operative will only have been convicted on federal charges. (The president cannot pardon individuals convicted on state charges).

Trump has frequently publicly sympathized with his former campaign chairman, saying he feels “very badly” about what Manafort and his family went through in the Russia investigation. Last February, Bloomberg News reported that New York state prosecutors were putting together a criminal case against Manafort in the event that Trump pardoned him.

Manafort was hospitalized beginning last Thursday after suffering a heart issue in prison last week and was not present in court on Wednesday.

. . . . The Constitution grants the president broad authority to pardon federal crimes, but he cannot pardon state crimes. In the Mueller probe, Manafort was charged with multiple counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, failure to report foreign bank accounts, false statements, money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.


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Let’s hope the N.Y. appellate judges follow the law and not their party.

Since when to Cuomo and his compatriots care about the law?

Frezz in the hizzy | December 18, 2019 at 6:01 pm

I suppose the physically broken-down figure if ill fortune of the defendant was inevitable, but I truly miss the mafia-don swagger of the Mr. Manafort. Maybe a well-placed pardon can get that rectified. Leave it to PDJT!!

If he committed the crimes – and I honestly didn’t follow the details too closely but my understanding is that these were real not process BS like Flynn – then he should not be pardoned.

I am fine if Trump commutes the sentence, and given the political motivation makes sense – and I think the double jeopardy ruling makes sense based on my limited understanding. I know this is still an evolving area of law but makes sense to me. You shouldn’t try someone over and over in different venues until you get the result you like.

JusticeDelivered | December 18, 2019 at 6:24 pm

What I want to see is push back in the form of prosecutions and jail time for those who conspire to abuse the process of law for political purposes. In other words start taking scalps.

The Supreme Court has upheld the “dual-sovereignty” doctrine, under which Manafort COULD have been prosecuted.

So, NYS could have prosecuted him, but the law in NYS apparently precludes dual-sovereign prosecutions.

Good news for Manafort. Not that he’s such a good guy, but he should have gotten the hillary clinton/biden treatment.

    Cuomo and Vance Jr. were agitating to have the legislature change the NY statute specifically because of the President and his administration. I guess either the legislature didn’t pass the change or the effective date of the change was after the indictment of Manafort.

      Milhouse in reply to Edward. | December 19, 2019 at 2:16 am

      The change did pass. But all it does is allow a state prosecution after a federal pardon. It doesn’t allow a state prosecution in anticipation of a federal pardon. (It’s also limited to people who work for or are related to the president, or to cases where the state can demonstrate that the the president got some benefit from the pardon.)

And Podesta walks free…

Connivin Caniff | December 18, 2019 at 9:24 pm

Before Trump pardons any of these people, he should announce that he is very disturbed at the two standards of justice in this country. He should state the specific contrasts, naming names. Then a while later he should begin pardoning, including for the reason, among others, that, as he has complained, other people who do the same or worse are never prosecuted. Therefore pardons are the only fair resolution.

He won’t pardon Manafort until he is re-elected. He may pardon Flynn if he gets a jail sentence.

Voice_of_Reason | December 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

my understanding is that the feds decided not to indict manafort years ago for these crimes, and only indicted him recently because they couldn’t get him on “russia”. seems like a selective prosecution.

manafort seems like a shady character, but the law should be applied equally, not just to trump supporters.

Connivin Caniff | December 19, 2019 at 10:49 am

This raises an issue of commuting rather than pardoning.