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Manafort Case Revival Greeted Skeptically by N.Y. Appeals Court

Patricia Hurtado
·3 mins read

(Bloomberg) -- Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s bid to revive his mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, which was dismissed last year on double jeopardy grounds, was met with skepticism by a panel of New York state appeals court judges.

A lower-court judge last year ruled Vance’s indictment overlapped with two federal cases brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that originally sent Manafort to prison for 7 1/2 years. He was released in May to home confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Assistant District Attorney Valerie Figueredo told the Manhattan appeals court Friday the state’s case against Manafort isn’t barred because it seeks to address different harms from the federal charges against Manafort.

“The people’s prosecution is permitted,” she said, arguing that state legislators have determined that New York’s double jeopardy prohibitions are too broad and permit her office to prosecute certain crimes. “This is one such instance,” said Figueredo.

Associate Justice Jeffrey Oing, one of the four judges who heard the appeal, later sounded dismissive of the state’s position. “They’re making the argument now to get over the double jeopardy problem now,” Oing said of Figueredo’s argument while addressing Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Manafort. “They got enough to get the indictments, but now what they’re doing is to go into a pivot to try to get that double jeopardy,” the judge added.

‘Heavy Overlap’

Blanche argued the state case was correctly dismissed. “The class of victims, the potential harm in the federal bank fraud statutes and the mortgage fraud and all the statutes brought here are one in the same,” he said. “They’re overlapping and they overlap heavily.”

Vance launched a grand jury probe of Manafort in 2017 but halted it after Mueller began a similar investigation. Manafort, 71, was convicted in Virginia federal court in 2018 of lying to tax authorities about tens of millions of dollars he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine and misleading banks about his financial health to get loans. He later pleaded guilty in a separate case to conspiring to lobby illegally for Ukraine, to launder money to support a lavish lifestyle, and to tamper with witnesses.

Vance announced his charges in March 2019 on the same day Manafort was sentenced. The New York case includes 16 counts and accuses Manafort of defrauding three banks of more than $20 million by making false statements on mortgage applications.

Read More: Manafort Charged in New York Just After Federal Sentencing

If Vance’s case is reinstated and results in a conviction, it would require a state prison sentence that would be beyond the president’s pardoning power.

Manafort’s lawyers claim New York’s broad double-jeopardy law protects defendants from multiple prosecutions for the same conduct, even if they were charged in other jurisdictions or by different government authorities

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