WASHINGTON - Paul Manafort, who once served as President Donald Trumpâ€™s campaign chairman, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Thursday for cheating on his taxes and bank fraud - a spectacular fall for a once high-flying political consultant who told the judge he is now â€śhumiliated and ashamed.â€ť
Manafort, a New Britain native, had faced up to 24 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis called that calculation â€śexcessiveâ€ť and sentenced him instead to 47 months.
Ellis said the sentence he imposed was more in line with others who had been convicted on similar crimes.
â€śThe government cannot sweep away the history of all these previous sentencesâ€ť for similar crimes, the judge said.
Ellis noted that he must consider the entirety of Manafortâ€™s life when issuing a sentence, noting Manafort has been â€śa good friendâ€ť and a â€śgenerous personâ€ť but that â€ścanâ€™t erase the criminal activity.â€ť Manafortâ€™s tax crimes, the judge said, were â€śa theft of money from everyone who pays taxes.â€ť
But the judge expressed some sympathy for Manafort, a 69-year-old GOP consultant who worked on the presidential campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
â€śHeâ€™s lived an otherwise blameless life,â€ť Ellis said. The judged noted Manafort has no past criminal history and â€śearned the admiration of a number of peopleâ€ť who wrote letters to the court support Manafort.
Wearing a green jail uniform with the words â€śALEXANDRIA INMATEâ€ť in block letters on the back, Manafort entered the courtroom in a wheelchair.
â€śThe last two years have been the most difficult years for my family and I,â€ť Manafort told the judge. â€śTo say that I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.â€ť
He asked the judge â€śfor compassion,â€ť adding, â€śI know it is my conduct that has brought me here.â€ť
Speaking from his chair, Manafort did not apologize for his crimes, but thanked the judge for how he had conducted the trial.
â€śI appreciate the fairness of the trial you conducted,â€ť he said. â€śMy life is professionally and financially in shambles.â€ť
Manafort said the â€śmedia frenzyâ€ť surrounding the case had taken a toll on him, but that he hopes â€śto turn the notoriety into a positive and show who I really am.â€ť
The worst pain, he said, â€śis the pain my family is feeling, â€ś adding that he drew strength from the â€śoutpouring of supportâ€ť he had received.
The hearing came just days before Manafort is set to be sentenced for related conspiracy charges in a case in D.C. federal court.
Manafortâ€™s trial last year documented his career as an international lobbyist whose profligate spending habits were part of the evidence showing heâ€™d cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of $6 million by hiding $16 million in income.
Prosecutors painted the former Trump campaign chairman as an incorrigible cheat who must be made to understand the seriousness of his wrongdoing. Manafort contends he is mere collateral damage in special counsel Robert Mueller IIIâ€™s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
At the outset of the hearing, Ellis addressed the larger special counsel investigation, saying Manafort was not convicted â€śfor anything to do with Russian colluding in the presidential election.â€ť