Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort Reuters

A US federal judge on Thursday sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to 47 months in prison for financial crimes uncovered during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, reports The Hill.

Under sentencing guidelines, Manafort faced 19 1/2 to 24 years in prison. Defense attorneys had urged Judge T.S. Ellis III to consider a more lenient punishment, citing their client’s age, poor health and his assistance in Mueller’s probe.

Manafort, who turns 70 in April, was convicted by a jury last August of eight criminal charges -- five counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report foreign bank accounts.

His case in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia marked the first criminal trial in the Mueller investigation. But as the defense noted, the charges against Manafort were not tied to Russian election meddling or allegations of collusion.

Ellis said during the trial that Mueller’s team of prosecutors could not mention their investigation into possible coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia’s government, according to The Hill.

Federal prosecutors spent almost two full weeks over the summer detailing to jurors how Manafort hid $55 million in foreign bank accounts, cheated the public out of more than $6 million in taxes on income from his work as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, and defrauded banks when the money ran out.

To avoid a second criminal trial on separate charges in Washington, D.C., Manafort reached a plea deal with Mueller that involved his full cooperation with federal prosecutors. But the federal judge presiding over his case in D.C. found that he lied to investigators and a federal grand jury about subjects “material” to Mueller’s investigation.

Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced in D.C. next Wednesday for conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to obstruct justice by tampering with witnesses. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for those charges. Jackson will decide whether he should serve those years consecutively or concurrently with the ones handed down by Ellis.

Mueller has charged Manafort and five other Trump associates in the course of his investigation with crimes that include financial violations, false statements and obstruction. The special counsel also indicted more than two-dozen Russians involved in plots to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, but none of the charges have alleged any conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

While Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia, President Trump himself has reportedly been informed he is not a target of the probe.

Trump has acknowledged intelligence information indicating that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, but has rejected the idea that his campaign colluded with Russia in the meddling.

There is broad speculation that Mueller is close to wrapping up his nearly two-year investigation. Mueller is expected to deliver a report to Attorney General William Barr upon his conclusion, but it remains unknown what parts -- if any -- will be sent to Congress or made public.

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