Paul Manafort confessed to mortgage fraud charges, Manhattan prosecutors say
NEW YORK — A disheveled Paul Manafort limped into a Manhattan courtroom Thursday and pleaded not guilty to a host of fraud charges — but prosecutors say the former Trump campaign chairman has already confessed to some of those very crimes.
Shortly after Manafort entered his not guilty plea before Supreme Court Judge Maxwell Wiley, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office filed notice that it plans to use a statement from his federal Washington, D.C., case in his upcoming state trial.
The statement, made by Manafort in U.S. District Court on Sept. 14, 2018, shows he has already copped to at least some of the crimes he’s now pleading not guilty to, according to the DA’s office.
“Mr. Manafort admitted, orally and in writing, to making misrepresentations in mortgage applications for proprieties located in New York, Kings and Suffolk counties to two financial institutions,” DA prosecutors said in the filing. “Additionally, Mr. Manafort admitted to making misrepresentations to another financial institution in a loan application.”
Manafort’s state indictment charges him with 16 counts of mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and conspiracy relating to millions of dollars in loans he took out on his properties in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Long Island. The loans came from two financial institutions, the Citizens Bank and the Federal Savings Bank, according to the DA’s office.
Despite his apparent confession, the disgraced former Trump campaign chairman said “not guilty” when asked in Wiley’s courtroom Thursday afternoon how he pleads to the DA’s charges.
The previously high-flying GOP politico, who made millions working for U.S. presidents and dictators around the world, donned navy blue jail scrubs, white sneakers and had his hands shackled to his waist as he appeared in court. His previously dark hair had turned a whitish gray.
As he was led into the courthouse, Manafort did not respond when someone yelled “traitor” at him.
Manafort arrives for his arraignment. Someone waiting in line yelled, "Traitor!" pic.twitter.com/d5oD6nYv1s
— Philip Bump (@pbump) June 27, 2019
He managed to crack a grim smile while being led out of the courthouse and taken back to the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan. Manafort will remain in federal custody for the duration of his state proceedings, according to the Bureau of Prisons. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 9.
Vance’s charges are meant to ensure that Manafort stays behind bars even if President Trump pardons him.
Contrary to Manafort’s federal convictions in Washington, D.C., and Virginia — which stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — Vance’s state charges can’t be voided by a presidential pardon.
Trump hasn’t said outright that he’s considering a pardon for Manafort. However, the president has said he feels “very badly” for his former campaign boss and regularly derides the investigation that brought him down as a partisan “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”
Manafort, 70, is currently serving a 7 1/2-year sentence for his federal convictions. He could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted on some of the most serious state charges.
Manafort’s legal team is contending the DA’s charges should be thrown out because his federal cases were based on some of the same conduct, thereby violating New York’s so-called double jeopardy laws barring people from being prosecuted for the same crimes twice.
“In our view, the laws in New York do not allow the People to do what they did in this case,” Manafort lawyer Todd Blanche told reporters outside the courthouse.
However, New York laws permit a person to be prosecuted twice for the same act if at least one element of the crimes is distinct.