A federal judge sentenced former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort Thursday to 47 months in prison for eight charges of tax and bank fraud, a punishment that came in far below advisory sentencing guidelines calling for between 19 and 24 years in prison as punishment for the 69-year-old’s crimes. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis dubbed those guidelines “excessive,” saying they far exceeded penalties handed down for similar convictions and noting, somewhat incredibly, that Manafort had “lived an otherwise blameless life.” Along with the jail time, the judge ordered the former Trump adviser to pay at least $6 million in restitution to the government. “I’m convinced that’s a just sentence for that conduct,” Judge Ellis said as he delivered the sentence to the Virginia courtroom.
“Manafort’s trial last year documented his career as an international lobbyist whose profligate spending habits were part of the evidence showing he’d cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of $6 million by hiding $16 million in income,” the Washington Post notes. “Prosecutors painted the former Trump campaign chairman as an incorrigible cheat who must be made to understand the seriousness of his wrongdoing. Manafort contends he is mere collateral damage in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.”
Manafort, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, addressed the court for several minutes before the sentence was handed down. “I know it is my conduct that brought me here… my life—personally and professionally—is in shambles,” Manafort said. “To say I am humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.” “I ask you to be compassionate,” Manafort said, addressing the judge. “I am ready for your decision.” Judge Ellis said that Manafort, who has been in jail since June 2018, did not receive special consideration for ultimately accepting responsibility for his crimes. “I was surprised I did not hear you express regret for engaging in criminal conduct,” Judge Ellis said before handing down the sentence. “I hope you will reflect on that.”
Manfort is still awaiting sentencing for conspiracy and witness tampering convictions, which CNN notes, he pleaded guilty to as “part of his admission that he had orchestrated a vast lobbying and money laundering criminal scheme.” It’s not yet known what sentence prosecutors will seek during the hearing set for March 13th.