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Paul Manafort Sentenced to 47 months in Prison

Posted by Seth Chazin | Mar 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

Federal Judge, T.S. Ellis, sentenced Paul Manafort to 47 months in prison for tax fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts . Many people were shocked by this sentencing, as the United States Sentencing Guideline range for his offenses were in the 19-25 year range. Ellis generally believed that the sentencing recommendations for tax fraud and foreign banking disclosures are excessive.

Many people wonder if the Judge was required to follow the 19-25 year Guideline range. The answer to that is no.  A federal judge generally has complete discretion in choosing a sentence for a defendant, as the United States Sentencing Guidelines are only advisory, unless there is a mandatory minimum sentence associated with the particular offense for which the defendant is being sentenced.

The next question people are asking is whether the sentence was too lenient.  The defense lawyers, and ultimately the judge, relied on 17 past cases where defendants broke tax or foreign banking laws and received no prison time. One case in particular, which was discussed in court was of a woman who kept an undisclosed 447 million in a foreign bank account and received a sentence of just 5 seconds of probation.

The jury agreed that Manafort had defrauded the IRS by making false claims on his tax statements. It convicted him on all 5 counts for false statements made every year from 2010-2014. During this time, Manafort failed to pay $ 6 million in taxes because he did not report overseas income. Judge Ellis ordered Manafort to pay this back and to make restitution. Judge Ellis indicated that he perceived tax crimes and foreign banking crimes as one in the same.  Ellis gave Manafort two years in prison for each tax crime and two-and-a-half-year sentence for the foreign banking crime.

The other crimes that Manafort is facing in a separate federal court case, such as money laundering, illegal foreign lobbying and bank fraud, will soon be reviewed by another judge. Charges also at issue are conspiracy and witness tampering, and are capped at a 10-year maximum sentence.

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 25 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.

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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson

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