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Manafort asks for shorter sentence in Virginia case

Manafort's lawyers request lighter sentence

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is asking for a "significantly" lower sentence for his conviction in the Eastern District of Virginia than sentencing guidelines prescribe. His attorneys argued in a sentencing memo filed Friday that the sentencing range of 19 1/2 to 24 years in prison is "clearly disproportionate" to his offenses as a first-time offender and given "the nature of the offenses." He was convicted of charges including tax fraud and bank fraud last year.

The probation department also apparently did not give Manafort credit for accepting responsibility for his actions in this case, according to his defense attorneys. They argue that when he pleaded guilty in the Washington, D.C. case, he admitted his guilt to the 10 hung counts in the Virginia case for which he was not convicted. 

Manafort's lawyers argued in a sentencing memo filed Friday that the charges are outside the special counsel's mandate to investigate Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election. They point out that Manafort was not charged with any crimes related to Russian collusion, and they claim that his prosecution was instead meant to pressure him "to provide incriminating information about others."

They also said because of the exposure by the special counsel of "every aspect of his life" and the "severe damage" his professional reputation has suffered, Manafort "poses no future risk to the public of reoffending and specific deterrence for a soon to-be septuagenarian is not necessary under these circumstances."   

Regarding Manafort's convictions on two counts of banks fraud, his lawyers argued that even though he knew his applications contained false information, "Mr. Manafort intended to repay each of the loans in questions and did not purposely seek to inflict pecuniary harm as to any of the banks."

The former Trump campaign chairman was originally to be tried in two different cases, one in Virginia and one in the District. He was tried in Virginia, but made a plea deal to avoid the second trial. He was found by the judge in the District case to have breached his plea agreement by lying to the government.  

Manafort has been incarcerated for nine months. He will be sentenced next week, on Mar. 7.

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