Judge: Manafort could spend 'the rest of his life in prison'

Wednesday, 14 Mar, 2018

Paul Manafort (R), former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives for an arraignment at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., March 8, 2018.

"The defendant is a person of great wealth who has the financial means and worldwide connections to flee and remain at large, as well as every incentive to do so", Ellis said.

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

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who will be overseeing Manafort's trial, said Manafort could face grave consequences for his alleged crimes.

Manafort's ex-associate Rick Gates, who also worked for the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty last month to his October indictment, after initially pleading not guilty, which included conspiracy against the USA, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) statements, false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign banks and financial accounts.

"Defendant faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison", Ellis wrote.

Manafort was put under "24-hour-a-day lockdown" on Friday by the judge.

He does not have to post bail but he would be fined $10 million if he doesn't appear in court.

Prosecutors attempted to unseal court transcripts from hearings held in January and February at the federal court in Washington, D.C. The hearings were open to the public, but during bench conferences with attorneys and other sidebars, a static block was used to obscure the conversation from others in the room. Last month, in Alexandria, Mueller's team obtained a second indictment of Manafort on 18 tax, bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy charges.

Manafort, 68, who is under house arrest, pleaded not guilty late last month to a slew of tax, bank fraud and conspiracy charges brought in Alexandria, Va.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Manafort faces up to almost 20 years in prison in the Washington case and up to about 10 years exclusively on the tax charges in the Virginia case if convicted, prosecutors said in a court filing last month.

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.