Benjamin Berkowitz

Haggard-Looking, Shackled Paul Manafort Pleads Not Guilty to State Mortgage Fraud Charges in Manhattan

The president's former campaign manager is already serving a 7 1/2-year federal prison sentence

What to Know

  • Paul Manafort is expected to be arraigned in NYC Thursday on state mortgage fraud charges; he's serving a 7 1/2-year federal prison sentence
  • The charges are seen as a ploy to keep him locked up if he is pardoned for federal crimes uncovered in the Russian meddling investigation
  • Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. announced the state charges in March, just minutes after the sentencing on the federal charges

A haggard-looking Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and conspiracy and scheme to defraud in Manhattan court Thursday.

Wearing shackles and white sneakers, the president's imprisoned ex-campaign chairman shuffled down the hallway outside the courtroom and did not respond to a flurry of questions from reporters. Manafort remained seated as he entered his plea and had to be helped out of his chair when taken out of the courtroom. 

Manafort, 70, is already serving a 7½-year prison sentence for misleading the U.S. government about his lucrative foreign lobbying work, hiding millions of dollars from tax authorities and encouraging witnesses to lie on his behalf. 

He was transferred last week to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, which also houses the notorious Mexican drug lord, El Chapo.  

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The 16-count New York indictment, which dropped minutes after his federal sentence was imposed in March, alleges 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.

In announcing the indictment months ago, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said, "No one is beyond the law in New York. Following an investigation that began in March of 2017, a Manhattan grand jury charged Manafort with state criminal violatons which strike at the heart of New York's sovereign interests, including the integrity of our residential mortgage market."

The state charges were widely seen as a ploy to keep Manafort locked up should President Trump pardon him for federal crimes uncovered during the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In the past, the president has said he feels "very badly" for Manafort but hadn't given any thought to a pardon. 

Some of the alleged conduct described in the New York indictment echoes the charges and testimony in Manafort's federal tax fraud case, and his lawyers are expected to challenge the case on double jeopardy grounds.

Manhattan prosecutors contend their case is safe from a double-jeopardy challenge because mortgage fraud and falsifying business records are state crimes, but not federal crimes. 

In conjunction with Manafort's federal convictions, the U.S. government seized two of his Manhattan properties and put them up for sale. His Trump Tower apartment, a one-bedroom with sweeping views of Central Park, is listed at $3.6 million. His swanky SoHo loft was also listed at the same price.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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