A New York judge throws out fraud charges against Paul Manafort, citing double jeopardy.
NEW YORK — A New York judge threw out state mortgage fraud charges against Paul Manafort, ruling Wednesday that the criminal case was too similar to one that has already landed President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman in federal prison.
The ruling was a blow to what had been seen as an attempt by Manhattan’s district attorney to hedge against the possibility that
Trump would pardon Manafort for federal crimes. District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office said it would appeal.
Manafort was convicted last year in two federal cases stemming from his business dealings and is serving a 71⁄2-year prison sentence.
Judge Maxwell Wiley ruled that state law precludes prosecution, citing double jeopardy grounds.
Manafort, 70, wasn’t in court for the ruling because of a heart-related condition that reportedly caused him to be moved last week to a hospital from a federal prison in Pennsylvania.
Defense lawyer Todd Blanche raised the double jeopardy issue soon after Manafort was arrested, saying the charges brought by Vance, a Democrat, violated a state law that bars repeat prosecutions for the same general conduct. He wrote in court papers seeking a dismissal that the factual overlap between the federal and state cases “is extensive — if not total.”
“This indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions,” Blanche said in a statement.
Blanche said Tuesday that Manafort’s condition is stable, but that his family and friends remain “extremely concerned about his health and still do not have a full understanding of his medical condition or well-being.”
Manafort looked frail as he shuffled into a Manhattan courtroom in June for an arraignment on the state charges. In March, at his sentencing in the second of the two federal cases, he used a wheelchair because of gout.
Manafort was convicted in federal court on charges alleging he misled the U.S. government about lucrative foreign lobbying work, hid millions of dollars from tax authorities and encouraged witnesses to lie on his behalf.
The 16-count New York indictment alleged Manafort gave false and misleading information in applying for residential mortgage loans, starting in 2015 and continuing until three days before Trump’s inauguration in 2017. He was also charged with falsifying business records and conspiracy.