The Slatest

New York Appeals Court Rules Paul Manafort Cannot Be Prosecuted After Trump Pardon

Paul Manafort, in handcuffs and a dark blue jumpsuit, smiles as he is led through a hallway surrounded by men in suits
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives at a Manhattan court proceeding in June 2019. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

New York’s highest court refused to reopen a mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign head Paul Manafort, sticking to the lower courts’ previous rulings that prosecuting Manafort for financial crimes similar to those ruled on by a federal court amounted to double jeopardy. The case against Manafort was first brought in March 2019 and, like other state-originated legal proceedings, was widely considered to be part of an effort to hold the Trump aide accountable in the event that he was pardoned at the end of Trump’s presidency. The crux of the case was that Manafort had falsified business records to get loans, but a New York court said the charges were essentially the same as the federal bank fraud case and that Manafort could not be tried twice for the same crime. Last year, an appeals court agreed with the lower court decision.

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., however, filed an appeal after then-President Donald Trump pardoned Manafort, who was convicted of fraud in 2018 stemming from the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, and was serving a 7½-year sentence in a Pennsylvania federal prison. As part of the federal case, Manafort pleaded guilty to a host of crimes, including undisclosed foreign lobbying and witness tampering, and was ultimately found guilty of tax and bank fraud. On the day of Manafort’s sentencing, Vance announced a 16-count slate of state charges.

The state court threw out the fraud charges on double jeopardy grounds, prompting Vance, during the initial appeal, to argue that Manafort had not “been held accountable” for the charges filed in New York. In the most recent effort to revive the case, prosecutors had hoped the New York Court of Appeals would buy the argument that the case being pursued in New York was legally distinct from the federal bank fraud case, but the court denied the motion.

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