New York judge dismisses state fraud case against Paul Manafort

The state judge said the charges violate New York's double jeopardy law.

December 18, 2019, 12:06 PM

New York State court on Wednesday dismissed a criminal fraud case against Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman.

Earlier this year, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office unsealed an indictment after a federal court in Washington, D.C., charged Manafort with 16 counts including residential mortgage fraud and other state crimes.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Maxwell Wiley sided with Manafort, saying the state charges violate New York's double jeopardy law.

"As far as the court can determine, New York courts have not yet been required to answer the question of whether this exception can apply to the two sets of federal and state fraud statutes charged in the successive prosecutions here," the judge wrote in the ruling. "Despite the reasoned arguments advanced by the people, the court concludes that, given the rather unique set of facts pertaining to the defendant’s previous prosecution in federal court, and given New York’s law on this subject, defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment as barred by state double jeopardy law must be granted."

PHOTO: Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign manager, arrives at Manhattan Supreme Court June 27, 2019 for his arraignment on mortgage fraud charges.
Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign manager, arrives at Manhattan Supreme Court June 27, 2019 for his arraignment on mortgage fraud charges.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

The District Attorney's Office said it will appeal Wednesday's decision, adding that the office "will continue working to ensure that Mr. Manafort is held accountable for the criminal conduct against the people of New York that is alleged in the indictment."

Manafort's attorney Todd Blanche said in statement that the defense has maintained from the very beginning that the case violated the double jeopardy law.

"We thank Judge Wiley for his careful consideration of our motion and his thoughtful opinion dismissing the charges against Mr. Manafort," Blanche said. "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."

Manafort did not appear in court on Wednesday after his hospitalization for a cardiac condition.

According to the indictment, Manafort allegedly schemed to obtain more than $20 million in loans by submitting false and fraudulent documents to a series of banks from December 2015 through January 2017.

The Manhattan District Attorney's investigation began in March 2017 but was shelved in deference to special counsel Robert Mueller, who was pursing similar federal charges against Manafort, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Manafort pleaded guilty to federal charges brought by Mueller's team in Washington, D.C., and the Eastern District of Virginia. The DA’s office revived the state case in March 2019 after Manafort was sentenced in the federal cases.

The New York case has been viewed by some as a way to ensure the convicted former Trump adviser would face prison if the president pardons him. Last year, President Trump told the New York Post that a pardon for Manafort has not been discussed but he "wouldn't take it off the table." Even if Trump pardons Manafort, he still faces a criminal case on the new state charges.

Manafort was sentenced to 90 months in prison as a result of his federal cases and is slated to be released from prison by Christmas Day 2024.

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