Not so pardon-proof, eh?
President Donald Trump pardoned former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Christmas Eve after a court found him guilty of tax fraud, bank fraud, and concealing his foreign bank accounts.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. thought his case against Manafort could go forward. But the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, put a stop to the case.
The court decided not to review a lower court’s decision that Vance’s case against Manafort “violated the state’s double jeopardy law.”
Vance wanted Manafort to “face state charges for mortgage fraud and other state felonies, crimes similar to those for which he was convicted in federal court and then pardoned by Mr. Trump.”
Many thought Vance brought the charges on the chance Trump would pardon Manafort. He filed the charges in March 2020.
A New York State Supreme Court appellate panel with four judges decided in October that Vance’s 16-count indictment against Manafort violated the double jeopardy law:
The two-page order on Manafort’s appeal brusquely dismissed Vance’s arguments that the prosecution was permitted because the mortgage fraud and business records falsification charges were sufficiently different from a broad federal tax and bank fraud case special counsel Robert Mueller had brought against the longtime lobbyist and political consultant in 2018.
“The People failed to establish that the federal and state statutes, all of which were directed against fraudulent transactions, were designed to prevent very different kinds of harm or evil,” the appellate panel’s order said. “The statutory differences cited by the People fall far short of satisfying the ‘very different kinds’ test.”
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley dismissed the $20 million mortgage fraud case against Manafort in December:
In the surprise decision, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley sided with lawyers for President Trump’s one-time campaign manager, who have argued that Manafort has already faced charges for the same conduct in two federal indictments.
Vance’s prosecutors agreed that the state and federal charges “arose from the ‘same act or criminal transaction,’” Wiley’s written decision noted.
But the jurist ruled that the DA’s office failed to prove that several exceptions under double jeopardy law allowed for overlap in prosecution.
“The People have failed to establish that the harm or evil each statute is designed to prevent is very different in kind from the federal statutes for which the defendant was previously prosecuted,” Wiley wrote in his 26-page decision.
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