Manafort Pleads Not Guilty to Various Charges

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to charges of tax and bank fraud in federal court in Virginia on Thursday. This sets up the prospect of back-to-back trials stretching through the summer, The Wall Street Journal reports.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis scheduled the trial to begin on July 10.  While prosecutors requested a trial which would come before a related Washington trial Manafort is scheduled to face in September, the former campaign chairman himself asked for a November date.

Manafort was also placed under home-confinement requirements by Judge Ellis, including a bracelet monitor. The judge cited Manafort’s substantial assets and ties abroad and said he was “a risk of flight.”

When asked how Manafort pleaded, his lawyer Kevin Downing said “not guilty, your honor” and asked for a jury trial, while Manafort sat quietly in the court. The lawyer further stated that he planned to file a motion in the Virginia case arguing that special counsel Robert Mueller overstepped his authority in charging Manafort in connection with activity unrelated to the 2016 election.

The Virginia trial would be the first one stemming from indictments produced by Mueller’s office. Manafort is among five defendants who have pleaded guilty to charges generated by the special counsel investigation. Mueller’s office accuses Manafort, his associate Richard Gates and others of laundering millions of dollars in income generated by their consulting work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine from 2008 through 2016, and not reporting it.

In the Washington case, Manafort is charged with conspiring to defraud the Treasury Department, conspiring to launder money and failing to file reports of his foreign lobbying efforts, even though he pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Other charges as well, including tax fraud and failure to file reports on foreign bank accounts between 2010 and 2014, were filed in Manaforts home state of Virginia. There, he has also been charged with bank fraud for allegedly using false statements to obtain $25 million in loans.

Prosecutors said that under sentencing guidelines Manafort faces between 8 and 10 years in prison should he be convicted of the tax fraud charges in Virginia. They added that he would also face another 12 to 15 to years for a conviction on the charges in the Washington case.

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