Trump’s ex-campaign chief sentenced to 47 months for fraud

US President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort

Washington, ¬†US President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been sentenced to 47 months in prison for tax and bank fraud, far short of what had been expected and recommended by the sentencing guidelines.

The sentence imposed by Judge T.S. Ellis III on Thursday was significantly less than the 19 to 25 years Manafort could have received under the advisory recommendations.

Manafort was convicted in 2018 of hiding millions of dollars of income earned through his political consulting in Ukraine.

The charges against him stemmed from an inquiry by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The crimes, though serious among white-collar offences, did not relate directly to Manafort’s work as Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, CNN reported.

Prosecutors painted Manafort as an “incorrigible cheat” who must be made to understand the seriousness of his wrongdoing. Trump’s former aide said he was “mere collateral damage” in Mueller’s probe.

At a trial last year, Manafort was convicted for defrauding banks and the government as well as for failing to pay taxes on millions of dollars in income he had earned from Ukrainian political consulting.

Prosecutors highlighted his lavish lifestyle, saying his crimes were used to pay for high-end clothes and multiple properties.

In a federal courtroom in Virginia, an attorney from Mueller’s office said Manafort “failed to accept responsibility and was not remorseful”.

“The last two years have been the most difficult of my life,” Manafort said in court before Ellis handed down the sentence. “To say I am humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.”

Judge Ellis said that Manafort was “not before the court for anything having to do with colluding with the Russian government” and added that though Manafort’s financial crimes were “very serious”, he found the sentencing guideline range for him was “not at all appropriate”.

“Life is making choices, Manafort, and living with the choices you make,” the judge said before he delivered the sentence. “You made choices to engage in criminal conduct.”

In addition to the sentence, Ellis ordered Manafort to pay a $50,000 fine, the lowest fine provided for by guidelines that recommended a fine between $50,000 and $24 million.

Manafort will also receive a sentence from the other federal judge next week, for the two crimes he pleaded guilty to last year — witness tampering and conspiracy related to years of illegal Ukrainian lobbying and money laundering — which could stack on top of the time he received on Thursday.