Manafort pleads not guilty to New York mortgage fraud charges


President Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, pleaded not guilty Thursday to state mortgage fraud charges during an arraignment hearing in a New York City courtroom.

Manafort, 70, is already serving a seven-and-a-half-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.

If convicted of the fraud charges, Manafort presumably would remain behind bars even if he is pardoned for federal crimes uncovered during the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Manafort, who entered the courtroom wearing a blue prison jumpsuit and white sneakers, was transferred last week to a federal prison in New York for his scheduled 2:15 p.m. arraignment before Judge Maxwell Wiley.

Wiley waived pretrial proceedings for Manafort and also added that there would be no waiver on his detainer – meaning that if he is pardoned on federal charges, he would still not be released from prison.

PAUL MANAFORT SENTENCED ON FOREIGN LOBBYING AND WITNESS TAMPERING CHARGES

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. announced the state charges in March, just minutes after Manafort was sentenced in the second of his two federal cases, saying in a statement at the time: “No one is beyond the law in New York.”

Manafort’s federal cases were byproducts of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian influence on the 2016 election, but a judge who presided over one of them made clear that they had nothing to do with Russian election interference, but rather Manafort’s years of “gaming the system.”

The 16-count New York indictment 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. He is also charged with falsifying business records and conspiracy.

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.

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The president can pardon federal crimes, but not state offenses.

Trump has said he feels “very badly” for Manafort but hadn’t given any thought to a pardon.

Manafort was sent to a federal prison in Pennsylvania after his last federal sentencing in March.

He was expected to be moved to New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex for the state case, but his lawyers complained to federal prison officials that his health and safety could be threatened there. Manafort used a wheelchair at his last federal sentencing because of gout and was seen limping when exiting the courtroom on Thursday.

Manafort’s next court date is Oct. 9.

Fox News’ Marta Dhanis and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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