Court filing: Manafort faces more than 19 years in prison

WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort, the one-time chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, could spend more than 19 years in prison on tax and bank fraud charges, prosecutors said Friday.

Court documents filed by special counsel Robert Mueller's office reveal that Manafort faces possibly the lengthiest prison term in the Russia investigation. The 69-year-old Manafort is also at serious risk of spending the rest of his life in prison if a federal judge imposes a sentence within federal guidelines.

The potential sentence stems from Manafort's conviction last year on eight felony counts related to an elaborate scheme to conceal from tax authorities the millions of dollars he earned overseas from Ukrainian political consulting. It is one of two criminal cases pending against Manafort in which he faces prison time.

Manafort, who led Trump's campaign for months during the 2016 presidential campaign, is not charged with any crimes directly related to Russian election interference, the thrust of Mueller's probe. But prosecutors have recently revealed that they remain deeply interested in his contacts during and after the campaign with an associate the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence.

In a 27-page court filing Friday, prosecutors did not recommend a precise sentence for Manafort, but they agreed with a calculation by federal probation officials that his crimes deserve a punishment of between 19.5 and 24.5 years. They also lay out in great detail for U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III how they say Manafort's greed drove him to disregard American law.

"In the end, Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars," the prosecutors wrote. "The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct."

Manafort has been jailed for months as he awaits his formal sentencing. His lawyers have said the incarceration has created a mental and physical strain on Manafort, who has recently used a wheelchair in court appearances and will turn 70 in April.

But Mueller's team made clear that Manafort's age should not be a consideration, nor does it eliminate the risk that he could still commit new crimes.

"Nothing about the defendant's age is unusual," they wrote. "Tax offenders are often older and often, like the defendant, wealthy, but they nonetheless receive substantial terms of incarceration notwithstanding age and health issues."

Prosecutors often acknowledge mitigating factors that a judge may consider on a defendant's behalf in favor of a more lenient sentence. But none exist here, prosecutors said.

They note that "his pattern of criminal activity" lasted more than a decade, that he conspired to tamper with witnesses despite facing indictments in two different districts and that he repeatedly lied to the government and to a grand jury even after he agreed to cooperate and plead guilty.

They also argued that Manafort deserved a sentencing enhancement reserved for defendants who lead or organize others in criminal activity.

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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort speaks at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort appears at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort talks to the media from the Trump family box on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, smiles as he talks with other Trump campaign staff after Trump spoke to supporters following the results of the Indiana state primary, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's senior campaign adviser Paul Manafort (L) walks into a reception with former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort listens to Ivanka Trump speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: A man with a security credential takes a selfie at the podium as Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium early Thursday afternoon in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday July 20, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Paul Manafort, advisor to Donald Trump, is seen on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Paul Manafort., Convention Manager, Trump Campaign, appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday April 10, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NA.R.DoleMicCk1.081596.RG.Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole looks up from podium at balloons and television cameras as convention center manager Paul Manafort, at right, points out preparations for tonight's acceptance speech in San Diego, 08/15/96. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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"Manafort controlled the money at issue, he recruited others to facilitate these crimes, and he claimed a larger share of the proceeds," they said. "Further, Manafort was plainly the leader. He involved numerous individuals who were both knowing and unknowing participants in the criminal scheme."

The filing by prosecutors came just days after a judge in Manafort's other criminal case ruled that he breached his plea agreement by lying to investigators and a federal grand jury about several topics, including his discussions of a Russia-Ukraine peace plan with the associate the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence.

That plea-agreement dispute has revealed that Mueller's team considers Manafort's contacts with the associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, to go to the "heart " of the ongoing investigation into any links between Russian election interference and Trump associates.

Manafort faces up to five years in prison in that separate case in Washington, where he admitted to illegally lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian political interests.

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Read the sentencing memo: http://apne.ws/dLZcjNu

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