Manafort wants NY mortgage case tossed on double-jeopardy grounds

by Ryan Smith10 Oct 2019

Lawyers for President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager contend that mortgage fraud charges filed against him in New York should be dismissed because of the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy – but prosecutors say the standard doesn’t apply.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office filed a 16-count indictment against Paul Manafort in March. Manafort, who is currently serving a 7 ½-year prison sentence for federal crimes, has been charged with residential mortgage fraud, attempted residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy, business records and scheme to defraud, according to the New York Daily News. The former Trump campaign manager allegedly scammed Citizens Bank and the Federal Savings Bank in relation to mortgage loans on properties in Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

Manafort’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, argued last month that the New York charges should be dismissed.

“Notably, the District Attorney does not contest that the New York case arises out of the same transaction as the conduct for which Mr. Manafort was previously prosecuted by the Special Counsel,” Blanche said in a statement.

The DA’s office, however, contends that the state charges relate to allegations that were never resolved in the federal case against Manafort, according to an Associated Press report. State prosecutors cited exclusions to the double jeopardy statute that they said gave them legal standing to charge Manafort for conduct that resulted in 10 hung jury counts at a federal trial in Virginia, the Daily News reported.

In September 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering in Federal court. He also admitted to charges for which the jury was hung. The Manhattan DA’s office said it plans to use those admissions against him, the Daily News reported.

The New York case was filed moments after Manafort’s federal sentencing in March. If convicted, Manafort could not receive a presidential pardon, which applies only to federal crimes.