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Judge gives Paul Manafort lenient sentence for tax and bank fraud

Oklahoma is physically distant from the courtroom where Paul Manafort received his sentence, but the judge described Manafort's criminal activities as theft from all taxpayers. The judge chose to apply a relatively light sentence to President Trump's former campaign chairman for convictions on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of not declaring a foreign bank account. His 47-month sentence fell short of the sentencing guidelines that called for a prison term between 19 and 24 years.

The federal judge explained his decision to sentence to Manafort to just under four years by saying that people convicted of similar crimes had been given shorter sentences. In addition to prison time, the court obliged Manafort to pay a $50,000 fine and $24.8 million in restitution.

Manafort had entered not guilty pleas at his trial where prosecutors presented evidence that he defrauded banks and avoided millions of dollars in federal taxes. His extravagant lifestyle likely convinced jurors to return multiple guilty verdicts. Manafort reportedly had a wardrobe valued at over $1 million.

Manafort entered his sentencing hearing in a wheelchair. His legal team urged the judge to be lenient due to the man's age, declining health and lack of prior criminal record.

Legal representation often plays an important role in protecting the rights of a person accused of white collar crimes. An attorney might form a defense strategy by questioning evidence that appears to involve a person in activities like securities fraud, embezzlement or tax evasion. Initial challenges by an attorney might prompt a prosecutor to reduce charges or offer a plea deal that limits the chance of prison time.

Source: NPR, "Paul Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Chairman, Sentenced To Just Under 4 Years", Miles Parks, March 7, 2019

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