Manafort could face 'rest of life in prison,' judge says

Manafort could face 'rest of life in prison,' judge says

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort faces "the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison", a federal judge in Virginia said Tuesday while setting strict conditions of his release pending trial on 18 counts of bank and tax fraud charges.

"Given the nature of the charges against the defendant and the apparent weight of the evidence against him, defendant faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison", wrote Ellis, who recommended that Manafort be kept on "24-hour-a-day lockdown" at his residence in Alexandria, Virginia.

Ellis also wrote that Manafort has the means to escape and would certainly try to do so given the opportunity.

As such, Ellis wrote, Manafort would remain under house arrest in his Alexandria home except for medical appointments, emergencies, court appearances and meetings with his attorneys. He has been ordered to wear two Global Positioning System monitoring anklets, or bracelets-one from each court house, and is confined to his house, with exceptions of medical emergencies, doctor appointments court dates, meetings with legal representation or religious worship.

During a hearing on Thursday, Ellis suggested that he was willing to loosen the limits on Manafort's freedom if he pledged property sufficient to assure his appearance in court.

The judge also ordered that Manafort pay $10 million if he fails to appear in court, Politico reported.

The former campaign chair is being tried in two different courts: Ellis' district court in Virginia and the court of Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, DC.

Manafort faces prosecution in Washington on charges of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, lying to federal agents and failing to register as a foreign agent, all stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in the 2016 election. All charges levied against Manafort pertain to his work as a lobbyist in Ukraine on behalf of former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions.

Each of the nine bank fraud or bank fraud conspiracy charges he faces in the Alexandria court carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison, although judges generally follow the guidelines, which typically call for sentences well below the maximum.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over Manafort's criminal case in Washington, D.C., set a September 17 trial date for the conspiracy, money laundering, and FARA charges.

In late February, Manafort's longtime business partner, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to a dramatically reduced set of charges in federal court in exchange for his cooperation with Mueller's probe.

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