Manafort-linked lobbyist dodges prison for charges initiated by Mueller

PHOTO: Sam Patten, a former associate of Paul Manafort, leaves U.S. District Court August 31, 2018, in Washington.PlayWin McNamee/Getty Images, FILE
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Sam Patten, a veteran Republican lobbyist who pleaded guilty to illegally funneling foreign money into the Trump inaugural fund as part of a case initiated by special counsel Robert Mueller, avoided prison at sentencing on Friday in Washington, D.C.

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Instead, Judge Amy Berman Jackson pegged Patten with 36 months of probation and a $5,000 fine.

Patten, 47, pleaded guilty in August for acting as an "agent of a foreign principal … without registering under the Department of Justice's Foreign Agent Registration Act,” related to his work on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.

PHOTO: Sam Patten, a former associate of Paul Manafort, leaves U.S. District Court, Aug. 31, 2018, in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images, FILE
Sam Patten, a former associate of Paul Manafort, leaves U.S. District Court, Aug. 31, 2018, in Washington, DC.

The special counsel’s office discovered Patten’s criminal activity over the course of its investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election, but referred the case to federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C. One of Mueller’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, attended Patten’s sentencing hearing.

As part of his plea deal, Patten acknowledged accepting $50,000 to secure tickets to President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 for a Ukrainian client through a "straw" purchaser, circumventing rules about the inauguration committee accepting money from foreigners.

“I’m probably most troubled by that,” Judge Jackson said at the sentencing, referring to Patten’s conduct in purchasing the inauguration tickets.

Patten also admitted to lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee during its investigation into Russian election interference and has since been cooperating with investigators.

In court documents filed earlier this week, prosecutors sought a "downward departure" in Patten's sentencing due to the extensive "cooperation and substantial assistance he has provided to the government.”

Patten has sought to distance himself from Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, with whom he worked in Ukraine and shared clients.

Manafort last year was convicted of a slew of financial crime charges largely related to his unregistered lobbying work in Ukraine.

On Thursday, Greg Craig, the former White House counsel during the Obama administration, was also charged with violating foreign lobbying laws related to his work in Ukraine.