Paul Manafort Is Sentenced to Less Than 4 Years in 1 of 2 Cases Against Him

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Paul Manafort, the political consultant and Trump presidential campaign chairman whose lucrative work in Ukraine and ties to well-connected Russians made him a target of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was sentenced to 47 months in prison on Thursday in the financial fraud case that left his grand lifestyle and power-broker reputation in ruins.

Of the half-dozen former Trump associates prosecuted by Mr. Mueller, Mr. Manafort garnered the harshest punishment yet in the case that came to a conclusion on Thursday — the first of two for which Mr. Manafort is being sentenced this month. But Judge T. S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., declined to follow advisory sentencing guidelines that would have effectively put Mr. Manafort, who turns 70 next month, in prison for the rest of his life.

For nearly two years, prosecutors pursued Mr. Manafort on two tracks, charging him with more than two dozen felonies, including obstruction of justice, bank fraud and violations of lobbying laws. But while they won a conviction, a guilty plea and ultimately Mr. Manafort’s agreement to cooperate, prosecutors said on Thursday that he provided little information of value for their inquiry into Russia’s election interference and the degree of involvement by Trump associates.

[The rise and fall of Paul Manafort: greed, deception and ego]

Most of what Mr. Manafort told the office of the special counsel “we already knew or was already in documents,” Greg D. Andres, the lead prosecutor in the case, said in court.

The evidence in the case tried last summer before Judge Ellis showed that Mr. Manafort hid millions of dollars of income in overseas accounts and lied to banks to obtain millions more in loans — a financial scheme that prosecutors said was rooted in greed and in Mr. Manafort’s sense that he was above the law.

They described him as a hardened, remorseless criminal who never fully accepted responsibility for his offenses and who continued to lie to federal prosecutors even after he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts in a related case in Washington and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office last fall.

While they asked for no specific punishment, the prosecutors cited sentencing guidelines that recommended a prison term of 19 to 24 years. Mr. Manafort, who suffers from gout and sat through the three-hour hearing in a wheelchair, asked the judge for compassion. “To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement,” he said.

Mr. Manafort was a prime target for Mr. Mueller, who is believed to be winding down his 22-month investigation and is expected to deliver a report soon to Attorney General William P. Barr. While the prosecutions against Mr. Manafort did not involve his five months of work for the Trump campaign, prosecutors clearly hoped for the collateral benefit of winning his cooperation with the Russia inquiry.

But Mr. Manafort’s value as a witness ultimately proved limited. Prosecutors abandoned their plea agreement with him in November, saying Mr. Manafort had repeatedly lied to them. The federal judge overseeing the Washington case agreed that Mr. Manafort had deceived investigators about three matters, including his interactions with a Russian associate who prosecutors have said is linked to Russian intelligence.

Mr. Manafort will be sentenced next week in the Washington case.

The Manafort saga is drawing to a close amid lingering questions. Through an inadvertent mistake in a court filing in January, it became clear that Mr. Manafort had lied to the prosecutors about his interactions with a Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, who has been identified by prosecutors as having ties to Russian intelligence. Those interactions included Mr. Manafort’s transferring campaign polling data to Mr. Kilimnik.

The special counsel’s office had wanted that information kept out of the public eye to protect an open investigation. It remains unclear why Mr. Kilimnik would want such polling data, what exactly he did with it and whether the data transfer might have helped inform the Russian government’s covert operation to interfere with the American election.

As proof of Mr. Manafort’s financial fraud scheme, prosecutors put forward exhaustive evidence of how he illegally concealed his work on behalf of political parties in Ukraine that were aligned with Russia and of how he hid more than $55 million in payments from that work in more than 30 overseas bank accounts.

Once his income from Ukraine dried up, their evidence showed, Mr. Manafort deceived banks to obtain loans to sustain a lavish lifestyle. At the same time, he worked for the Trump campaign for free, apparently hoping his status as campaign chairman would attract deep-pocketed foreign clients. He was fired from the campaign after five months when the scandal over his hidden income from Ukraine broke in August 2016.

Mr. Manafort’s lawyers repeatedly implied that the special counsel’s office pursued their client with unusual vigor because of his importance to the Russia inquiry. They said his political consulting work for four American presidents, including Mr. Trump, spoke to his high ideals. And they argued that the special counsel’s office has vilified him for what are essentially garden-variety crimes that for other defendants merited only limited time behind bars.

But prosecutors said that Mr. Manafort had been under criminal investigation before Mr. Mueller was appointed in May 2017, that his fraud scheme lasted a full decade and that he committed new crimes by tampering with witnesses after he was indicted. Those new offenses led a federal judge to revoke his bail and jail him in June.

“The defendant blames everyone from the special counsel’s office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.

Mr. Manafort was indicted on 18 counts in the Northern Virginia case, but the jury convicted him on only eight: five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. Because of one holdout juror, the panel deadlocked on the other charges. Mr. Manafort admitted that he was guilty of those as well, though, as part of his plea agreement.

Next week, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States District Court for the District of Columbia will sentence him for the two conspiracy charges, which each carry a maximum penalty of five years. Whether the sentences run consecutively or concurrently is a major issue for both sides.