Federal judge to sentence ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Thursday

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump

It appears that the 69-year-old Manafort is entering the final chapter in what has been a year and a half long legal saga for the longtime GOP operative.

He's paying the price for USA crimes he committed while advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine and after that, when his cash dried up.

Manafort's lawyers, in a recent sentencing memo, asked the judge to give their client less prison time, arguing that the court's 19- to 24-year guideline "is clearly disproportionate to the offense conduct for which Mr. Manafort was convicted".

Prosecutors add that Manafort was not forthcoming with earlier investigators. Manafort, according to the filing, owes the government millions of dollars in taxes but the government can not "be sure of the full extent of Manafort's assets" because he never submitted a financial statement to any court, which prosecutors pointed out is "yet another example that he has failed to accept responsibility".

Manafort, who turns 70 in April, faces potentially spending the rest of his life behind bars when he comes before Judge T.S. Ellis at on Thursday afternoon, USA time, in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom. Mueller is likely to save those conclusions for his final report on the Russian Federation investigation.

Manafort has also been charged in Washington with money laundering, witness tampering and other offences and faces separate sentencing in that case on March 13.

In the Virginia case, neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys have recommended a specific term to the judge in their sentencing memoranda.

Prosecutors stated that Manafort "poses a serious risk of recidivism", noting his "lies to the government and grand jury are aggravating factors and an additional basis for the denial of any reduction for the acceptance of responsibility". At one court hearing, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said a meeting between the two men at a cigar bar in Manhattan on August 2, 2016, goes "very much to the heart" of Mueller's investigation, though he provided no details. They also discussed a peace plan to resolve cross-border hostilities after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. The decision on how much to punish Manafort - who turns 70 next month - lies in the hands of Judge T.S. Ellis III. Manafort faces a maximum of 10 years for those crimes.

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

Manafort was originally to be tried in two different cases, one in Virginia and one in the District.

Gates, a key witness against Manafort, has yet to be sentenced due to his ongoing cooperation with prosecutors.

The judge has used hearings in Manafort's case previously to inject politics into the proceedings.

"The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct", officials said.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with Russian officials and is awaiting sentencing. "When I was in the State Department, I met with all kinds of people, so you can triangulate and figure out what's happening". Manafort had pleaded not guilty to all 18 counts in the case.

In their sentencing memo, Manafort's lawyers argue for leniency. In the months leading up to and during his stint on Trump's campaign, which he worked on for free, he then turned to misleading banks to fill his coffers, the prosecutors alleged. They also said Manafort owes the U.S. Treasury over $6 million in taxes.

For their part, Manafort's lawyers seek mercy for a man once considered one of America's premier political consultants, advising four US presidents and working around the world. They say he has developed gout and suffers debilitating foot pain as a result, and that he is experiencing feelings of claustrophobia and isolation.

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